Lynne Hermansen
Public comments at the Thursday, July 14 city council meeting became heated over the recent Kansas Court case on a land annexation case Protect Rural JOCO vs City of Edgerton Case 21-CV-2184.
Jennifer Williams, resident, said she had had an online discussion with Edgerton Mayor Don Roberts about the narrow corridor annexation.
Williams said Roberts’ letter was filled with false statements and the annexed corridor violated codes.
“The court sees it is illegal,”she said.
Williams said the way the statute is written it has to go to Appeals Court and would require a public hearing through due process.
“The statute is illegal,”she said. “How long do we have to keep doing this.”
Williams said Roberts’ letter was misleading and the State Attorney General needed to look at the situation.
“Northpoint gets benefits,”she said. “It’s not fair. I’m begging you you can vote to deannex the land. Is it really what’s best for Edgerton. It’s not ethical. It’s not legal. Let it grow naturally. Northpoint is buying up all the land. I’m begging you to do the right thing.”
Josie Stambaugh, council member, said was Williams stating the land was illegally annexed.
Williams said yes that was what she was stating.
“The day Northpoint bought the land that night it was annexed into the city on December 10,”she said. “The judge did say it was illegal. It is a technicality. Why have a special meeting? December 17 it was annexed and zoning applications were already on file. It was a pretty clear intent to access.”
Williams said they were given a loophole and it was unconstitutional.
Lee Hendricks, city attorney, said he was pleased there was a large crowd and the newspaper in attendance.
“I don’t represent individuals, but the City,”he said. “I take it seriously. There are multiple sides to a matter. This has been our approach in past litigation involvement—we don’t comment on it.”
Hendricks said they were currently involved in two lawsuits and the zoning actions with Protect Real Johnson County was still pending.
“The protocol for annexation is awaiting the journal entry from the judge after the petition is filed,”he said. “We didn’t file an answer and there was an immediate motion to dismiss because it did not have standing.”
Hendricks said judges prefer due process and don’t like dismissals.
“The judge felt it was worth dismissal,”he said. “A very short video conference was held and a journal entry is not law, but it is shared between parties who agreed on what the judge ruled. The journal is submitted to opposing party for review.”
Roberts said he agreed that judges don’t like to dismiss and like to hear both sides.
Hendricks said there was no standing for the lawsuit as it doesn’t have jurisdiction.
“I don’t believe it is time to add for fluff to ruling,” he said. “It is still pending and won’t go any further. Discussion in front of county commission was incorrect on how judge ruled. I disagree. Don’s letter is not misleading.”
Hendricks said due process was followed.
“I’m completely understanding and we will continue to have disagreements,”he said. “I want to be a conduit to bridge groups. It is a bad look to misread and misstate comments by the court. There was a clear ruling.”
Stambaugh said if residents decided to pursue further with the Attorney General what would the next step be for them.
Hendricks said they would respond to whatever the party brought.
Stambaugh said she didn’t feel the word fluff was correct.
Hendricks said adding in comments is misleading when journal entries are short and to the point.
Stambaugh said they didn’t have the opportunity to present facts.
Hendricks said it was because they didn’t have standing.
The hearing was held June 7 and the journal entry had been submitted but has not been entered as a matter of record.
In Mayor Roberts letter to the Johnson County Commission he said “The City of Edgerton has always scrupulously followed the legal requirements for annexation and zoning of property in its jurisdiction. It has been transparent in its actions, and it has openly and fairly addressed every legal issue presented in the appropriate form. It is extremely disappointing that the County Comission has fostered misinformation regarding such an important matter to the citizens of the County and to the citizens of Edgerton.”
Roberts said it was hoped Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara would withdraw her comments and correct the record of the Court’s ruling.