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Municipalities may not contract away their police powers

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

The Missouri Court of Appeals recently held, in Lamar Company, LLC v. City of Columbia, (Mo. App. W.D. Dec. 6, 2016), that a settlement agreement exempting billboards from a city’s zoning requirements violated Missouri law because it impermissibly restricted a city’s police powers. The settlement agreement in question required the City to approve future billboards without regard to its zoning ordinances. By statute, Section 432.070 RSMo., Missouri municipalities are prohibited from making contracts beyond the scope of their power. The court concluded that an agreement not to fully enforce zoning ordinances was beyond the scope of the City’s power. Cities may not “contract away” their police powers or agree to restrictions on their police powers.

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