No vote planned for convention hotel in downtown Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Plans to build a convention hotel in downtown Kansas City are moving forward Friday morning despite one group’s efforts to stall the project until the public could vote on it.

The Citizens for Responsible Government gathered enough signatures for a petition to put the hotel issue on the ballot, but the City Council said Thursday that the petitions were illegal because the petitions were given to the City Council too late.

The city signed financial agreements and other contracts in September to build an 800-room Hyatt at 16th and Baltimore, across the street from the convention center.

Petitioners turned in their signatures a month later, in October.

The City Council argued that putting the issue on the ballot now would be illegal because it would stall the project and violate the binding agreements already signed. But opponents argued that not letting citizens vote on it violates their rights.

The city charter gives citizens the right to petition and put certain issues to a public vote. Specifically, the Citizens for Responsible Government wanted voters to decide if it was right for the city to spend at least $35-million dollars on this new hotel.

They are also upset that the city agreed to let the Hyatt hotel staff cater all events at the Grand Ballroom, leaving several local caterers out in the cold.

If petitioners want to push the issue, they could file a lawsuit against the city and let the courts decide whether the hotel should be put to a vote. But for now, the hotel project moves forward with plans to have it built by the spring of 2018.