November 26, 2014

EDITORIAL: Kansas Legislature gets one right

The Kansas Legislature got at least one thing right during the 2011 legislative session. They re-wrote municipal annexation laws allowing property owners to have more say in the process.

The move should satisfy property owners in unincorporated parts of Johnson County – especially those near Overland Park and Olathe.

The recently passed legislation allows homeowners to vote on whether to allow a city to annex their property. The change to annexation laws, which have been stagnant since 1987, comes on the heels of longstanding complaints from southern Johnson County residents.
The most recent land grab Overland Park swallowed eight-square miles into its city limits over the loud objections of property owners in 2008.

While critics called the bill anti-development, saying it would stifle growth and job creation, we heartily disagree. When land owners are ready to sell their property to developers, developers will happily cede to becoming part of nearby municipalities.

The sole sour note of the legislation is that it passed too late to help the dozens of landowners whose residences are now part of the big, beige Overland Park machine.

But we’ll take late over never.

Comments

  1. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    According to Wichitopekington, a blog by Wichita Eagle government reporters, Kansas Senate Bill 150 was passed on May 11 by an overwhelming majority vote of both houses of the state legislature. If signed by Governor Brownback, the bill would “tighten the rules for cities that want to annex property from unincorporated areas by requiring a vote of affected property owners when a city and county approve an annexation of more than 40 acres. A County Commission would need a two-thirds vote to go forward, rather than the simple majority now required.

    “Annexations of less than 40 acres would not require a public vote, but the commission approval would still require a two-thirds supermajority.

    “Cities would still be allowed to annex land without a county commission vote in some circumstances.

    “The bill also shortens the time residents have to wait to try to undo an annexation if they feel the city they’re added to is not providing adequate public services.

    “At present, the County Commission is required to hold a hearing five years after an annexation to determine whether the city that took the land is adequately providing services to residents. SB 150 shortens that to three years.

    “In cases where the county determines a city is not providing adequate services, the city now has two years to correct the problem before an annexation can be revoked. SB 150 shortens that to 18 months.”

    Wichitopekington reported that the bill resulted from extensive negotiations between representatives of property owners and municipal governments. Although the compromise legislation places stricter conditions on annexation, it still gained the support of the Kansas League of Municipalities.

  2. The people involved should have always had the right to vote on an annexation issue like they do in many, many other states. That last Overland Park annexation was a travesty of justice and democracy in my opinion. They had over 900 citizens objecting that annexation and only about 8 or 9 citizens for it and yet the Commissioners gave Overland Park practically all of what they wanted – politics at its most rotten state. I will have to check to see if Tom Watson still has his lawsuit against the city of Overland Park and Johnson County going on that annexation.

    It will be interesting to see now how the politicians connive and manipulate to get what the big boys want while they continue to have a deaf ear to the wants of the average citizens. Steve Rose had an article in the KC Star on this today and you already can tell by the comments being made that the people are so used and abused for the needs and wants of the special interests and they will be popping it to the citizens one way or the other. The people may want to control future development but the big boys have the politicians to work for them and the people will end up with development they don’t want crammed down their throuts and given a huge bill for something they don’t want.

    Politics in the U.S. – who is really running your country?????

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