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City asks utilities to be
‘horse traders’

by Dave Kinnamon
Landmark reporter

Platte City does not automatically plan to extend or increase the selection of utilities nor the accessibility of them to the county areas on the city’s list of proposed annexation areas. The issue will be voted on by local voters this November.

“The city utility franchise does not control utilities but we permit them to operate in the area,” Platte City administrator Keith Moody said on Monday at the city’s quarterly managers meeting, at city hall.

Representatives from Sprint, Platte-Clay Electric, Time Warner able, Aquila, Unite, Public Water Supply District No. 4, Empire Gas and Timber Creek Sewer Company were all present at the meeting.

Platte City Mayor Dave Brooks also attended. Brooks, a stickler about telling people to turn their cell phones off or to silent mode at all city meetings, was briefly distracted toward the end of the meeting when his cell phone began ringing. Brooks turned his phone to silent without answering it.

Moody and the city’s annexation consultant, Rich Caplan, and the city special annexation counsel, attorney Joann Ellsworth, of Williams & Campo PC, all sought in their own words to convey the fact that Platte City’s intent to involuntarily annex about 6,500 acres of Platte County will not give the residents in those areas special hope that they will then receive utilities or other brands of utilities that aren’t currently offered in their area.

City services, like police protection, for example, will be offered to those areas, Caplan said.

“Utilities extensions will occur as part of a natural process,” said attorney Joann Ellsworth. “Utilities extensions occur naturally at the discretion of the utilities provider. Even within the current city limits, the utilities are handled the same way.”

“In the city’s plan of intent (to involuntarily annex), the city will address every utility,” Caplan said.

“We expect that you utilities will act as horse-traders with the property owners and property developers and among yourselves,” Caplan said.

The proposed annexation areas would almost quadruple the size in acres of Platte City.

Though city officials and consultant Caplan and attorney Ellsworth are still unsure about how much Platte City’s population would increase, the population increase would be significant. The current city population is almost 5,300.

Caplan began his annexation update by clearing the air, so to speak.

“The city understands the politics of the situation and that some people don’t want to be part of the city,” Caplan said.

Caplan then explained that this city annexation attempt is involuntary, the residents in the proposed annexed areas are not asking the city to annex them, as frequently occurs, Caplan said.

Caplan is currently working with Liberty, Raymore and Parkville with their proposed annexations.

Moody and Caplan handed out color maps showing the two large proposed annexation areas.

“In a perfect world, the city would to see uniform boundaries. That’s the intent,” Caplan said.

The cities two proposed annexation areas, called “A” and “B,” are very gerrymandered and don’t appear to conform to any natural boundaries except the Platte River and the current Platte City limits, in various places.

“Whether you live inside Platte City or outside the city, people consider it ‘Platte City.’ Their children go to school there, they receive their mail there. There’s a great identity there. There are a lot of challenges for cities that have islands of incorporated and unincorporated areas,” Caplan said.

Caplan seemed to tell the managers and utilities people that the “islands” of currently developed areas that the city does not seek to annex have been left off for the residents’ sake.

“Those are people not actively subdividing their property and are content to be in the county,” Caplan said.

Both Caplan and Moody reiterated that the city will hold a public hearing in August about the annexation questions.

“At the public hearing, if there are reasons made known that some parcels should be excluded or other parcels included, after the hearing, the board of aldermen will look at those,” Caplan said.

Caplan explained that as part of the “involuntary” nature of this annexation attempt, results of the election, if the numbers support, will be taken to Platte County Circuit Court to have a judge order the annexation.

One man in the audience asked Caplan, Ellsworth and Moody what government body will maintain the roads whose centerlines serve as a boundary for the city limits in the proposed annexation areas?

“You’re going into some fine details. That’s why we want to have these meetings, to work them out,” attorney Ellsworth said.



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