Lynne Hermansen
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Friday, July 1 that a 2006 agreement between the City of Olathe and the City of Spring Hill regarding land annexation is not legally binding.
The City of Spring Hill and the City of Olathe entered into an agreement March 2006 to restrict their future growth by establishing boundaries for annexing land adjacent to the two cities.
The goal of the agreement was to support long-term planning and avoid annexation disputes between the two municipalities. Olathe would not annex south of the boundary line and Spring Hill would not annex north of the boundary line under the agreement terms.
Spring Hill was worried at the time that a city with the resources and magnitude of Olathe would easily and quickly be able to surround the city boxing them in and making their growth possibilities almost impossible.
The area of unincorprated land sits between 175th and 169 Highway.
Spring Hill annexed the land from Olathe last year from their most northern border to 175th street crossing the northern boundary line of the agreement. They plan to develop the area into a commercial development site that will include possible businesses of Carvana and Dunmire known as Project Extract. The area is currently home to two adult entertainment centers.
Olathe has said that Spring Hill can not use the land for commercial use and is not honoring the original contract from the 2006 annexation agreement establishing a boundary they wouldn’t cross over.
The City of Olathe sued Spring Hill and placed a temporary restraining order that was overturned.
In addition to the agreement with Springhill, Olathe entered into similar agreements with the city of Lenexa in 1983; City of Gardner in 1988; Gardner and DeSoto in 1989 and Overland Park in 2005.
The agreement did not list an expiration date but was to ‘remain in effect until terminated.’ Olathe and Springhill complied until March 2021 when Spring Hill annexed property north of the boundary line.
The district court ruled on June 14, 2021 the agreement wasn’t enforceable and couldn’t prevent the city council from taking action to annex the property. The same day the city council adopted an ordinance to annex the land for Project Extract.
The court granted Olathe’s motion to transfer the case to the State Supreme Court on September 23, 2021. The court sided with the district court stating the agreement between the two cities was not binding.
Spring Hill Planning Commission and City Council approved the annexation after a City of Olathe attorney had said they would sue if Spring Hill went through with the annexation.
The City of Olathe promptly filed a lawsuit.
Spring Hill continued to annex more property north of the line in the agreement. The new annexed land was planned for a high-density residential area next to rural homes. The rural residents organized to fight against it but lost.
Kansas State Supreme Court justices heard the original arguments on May 18, 2022.