(May 22, 4:15 p.m.) Update: Webster University President Elizabeth Stroble and Eden Theological Seminary President David Greenhaw expressed their gratification of Judge Mark Seigel’s ruling on their lawsuit against Webster Groves in a joint statement. The presidents also stressed the university and Eden are committed to working productively with the mayor, the city council and city staff on all future matters. The well being of the city of Webster Groves relies on collaboration through established channels and not a courtroom.
In a separate statement, Stroble said the university looked forward to using the Luhr Library and the Wehrli center to support the needs of higher education. She said the buildings would be used for the university’s Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence, a meeting place for faculty and alumni and a new workplace for the Information Technology department.
Webster Groves City Council’s decision to deny Webster University access to lands purchased from Eden Theological Seminary has been reversed by the court.
On May 21, Judge Mark Seigel said the Council’s decision was not supported by competent and substantial evidence. He ordered the decision be reversed, remanded, and instructed a conditional use permit be issued to Webster University within 60 days.
On Aug. 20, 2013 the city council voted to deny the university’s CUP, 4-3 after the city’s Plan Commission voted unanimously in favor of the proposal advancing to City Council voting.
The university and Eden applied for a CUP in March 2013 which would have enabled Webster to repurpose buildings obtained on Eden’s campus for university activities. The university purchased and leased the land on Eden for $5.3 million dollars in 2010.
The university’s CUP request would allow the university to demolish one building to increase green space and repurpose two others. The university planned to use the Wehrli center as a meeting place for alumni and faculty. And to repurpose the Luhr library to become the new home of the chess team and office space for Information Technology personnel.
The Journal will post updates as this story develops.