MORGANTOWN – A Morgantown businessman has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state against Morgantown City Council after he claims it failed to follow rules in filling a seat on the Morgantown Planning Commission.

Charles McEwuen, Jeff Mikorski and Morgantown Planning Commission were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

James Giuliani applied for a position vacated by Dr. Ken Martis after the commission’s February meeting and the seat was designated to be filled by a representative from city administration, according to a complaint filed April 19 in Morgantown Circuit Court.

Mikorski, Morgantown’s city manager, nominated McEwuen for the seat and a special meeting was held in which the city council met him and he sat for the April 14 Planning Commission meeting.

Giuliani claims pursuant to McEwuen’s application, he states that he is self-employed as the owner of Tanner’s Alley Leather and there is no reference or any indication that he is a member of the Administrative Department of the City or is affiliated in any way with the Administrative Department of the City of Morgantown, nor is there any evidence that he has knowledge and experience in matters pertaining to the development of the city.

The plaintiff is qualified to be a member of the Planning Commission in that he has the requisite knowledge and experience in developments related to the city through his occupation as a real estate developer, entrepreneur and owner of numerous properties in the city and he is very familiar with the city’s codes and regulations. He is also involved in many public hearings regarding development projects.

Giuliani claims he also previously served as a member of the Planning Commission for more than 10 years and has a degree in real estate business management from the West Virginia Business College and has his West Virginia real estate license.

“…Giuliani contends that the City Manager and City Council showed favoritism towards Mr. McEwuen and bias towards Mr. Giuliani, since the latter was not even considered for an interview even though he is extremely qualified and Mr. McEwuen is not,” the complaint states. “It is believed that the City Manager and City Council have shown bias towards Mr. Giuliani due to his extensive involvement in the decisions regarding City developments and his zealous advocacy of the same as a citizen of Morgantown.”

Giuliani is seeking the court to declare that McEwuen’s vote pertaining to a project voted on recently is null and void. He is being represented by Samuel H. Simon and Catherine S. Loeffler of Houston Harbaugh.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 16-C-241

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