Charlie Troutner resigned from the Edgerton city council on Feb. 8, 2017. This photo of Troutner is from the October 2013 opening ceremony for the Edgerton Community Museum, for which he will continue to serve as president. File photo
Special to the Gardner News
Janeice Rawles, city clerk, was recognized for 25 years of service at the Feb. 9 Edgerton city council meeting. There was also a resignation, a removal, an appointment of an alternate, as well as discussion of new Kansas election laws, and whether splitting duplex lots should be allowed.
Resignation, removal, appointment
Don Roberts, mayor, began the meeting by reading a letter of resignation, effective on Feb. 8, from Charlie Troutner, council member. In the letter, Troutner cites personal issues as the reason for resigning.
Troutner’s term expires in November, 2017. Roberts said he hopes to recommend a member of the Edgerton Planning Commission (EPC) for appointment to complete the term.
Council then considered removal of a planning commission member due to lack of attendance.
Desiree Goans, commission member, has moved out of town, has a new job and has expressed uncertainty about her future availability. Roberts said he had emailed Goans and asked for a resignation but had not gotten one.
Removal requires a vote of council and a 14 day appeal period following. Council voted 4-0 to remove Goans from the planning commission.
If a PC member moves to fill the vacant council seat, as Roberts anticipates, there would be two empty seats on the PC.
The seat of the removal cannot be directly replaced during the appeal period, however, an alternate member can be appointed at any time.
Next, Roberts nominated John Daley, who was in attendance, as an alternate member of the commission.
Council approved with a 4-0 vote to appoint Daley as alternate planning commission member.
All of the above will leave one seat to be filled on the planning commission.
Election law changes
The State of Kansas recently passed legislation that ends April elections and deals with issues connected to transitioning to November elections.
Council was presented with Charter Ordinance No. 23, exempting the city of Edgerton from provisions of K.S.A. 15.201 and providing substitute provisions. C.O. No. 23, if adopted, would repeal C.O No. 4, which has been in place since 1968.
It would update city code on elections, reflecting new state law with exemptions.
The ordinance, as presented, states that current elected office holders with terms expiring in April 2017 would be extended to January 2018. Those expiring in April 2019 would extend to to January 2020.
The terms of Roberts, and Cindy Crooks, council member, will be extended until January 2018.
Roberts was uncomfortable with the idea of enacting an ordinance to extend his own term., He questioned why city ordinance was even necessary, since it is already state law.
“I’m opposed to us changing the dates – because the legislators did it. Why would we have to do that? I can’t extend my elected time – the legislators did. I think it should rest on their shoulders, not ours by passing a resolution or ordinance” he said.
Patrick Reavey, city attorney, indicated that the statewide effort was aimed primarily at amending municipal codes to be consistent with new state law eliminating April elections. Any code mentioning April elections must be removed. However, according to Reavey, the existing 1968 Edgerton code does not mention April elections.
“Looking through Edgerton’s Charter Ordinances and city codes, there is no reference to elections occurring in April, so I suppose you wouldn’t have to pass it,” he said.
It was agreed that an ordinance defining current election policy was a good idea, but with amendments to some sections of the ordinance as presented tonight.
The main sticking point for Roberts was the extension of terms. He said he personally didn’t feel that he or state legislators had a right to extend terms, that only the voters should do that.
“I think the citizens have that right. They’re the ones that elected us in the beginning to serve our term – not an extended term,” he said.
Roberts said he would be more comfortable with amending the section regarding extension of elected terms to simply refer to state law.
Reavey suggested that council table the item, rather than deny it, and to take some time to explore the options.
Motion was made and the 4-0 vote approved tabling the item for a future meeting.
Splitting duplex Lots
The owner of a duplex has approached the city with a request to split the lot, down the middle of the building.
Kenneth Cox, community development director, reviewed the topic.
City code requires structures to be at least 9 feet from lot lines. A lot line going through the middle of a structure would clearly not meet that code requirement.
Roberts said Olathe allowed it. He also stated that the elderly owner is ill ,and the two tenants are interested in purchasing the half of the property they now reside. They want to know it’s legal first.
The owner’s other choice is to evict both residents and put the property on the market to find a single buyer.
Reavey advised council that text amendments could be made to regulation to allow it. Staff would develop the amendments, and then would have to process through a public hearing, planning commission recommendation and council adoption.
He also noted that even if the city does change code to allow it, mortgage companies would likely not be interested in financing it.
Council voted to begin the process of amending regulation to allow split lots in R-2 duplex zones.