Dave Brooks, left, says in a press release
a technical glitch has slowed
the progress of the city. At right is city
administrator Keith Moody.
In a move coming shortly after
a judge had approved an expedited schedule for
a pending Sunshine Law violation lawsuit against
the city, Platte City has pulled its aggressive
annexation proposal off the November ballot.
The vote to pull the two annexation
questions was unanimous by the six-member Platte
City Board of Aldermen at a meeting Tuesday night.
News of the impending decision by the city to
drop its annexation effort was first reported
by The Landmark on its web site last Friday afternoon.
City officials declined to comment
beyond the content of a news release issued at
the conclusion of the meeting. In that release,
city officials claim the decision to drop the
annexation was done "in an effort to avoid
But The Landmark has confirmed
a settlement is in the works between the city
and Harold Coons, a Platte City resident who brought
legal action against the city for allegedly violating
the state's open meetings law when it held a special
June 7 meeting to pass the first reading of the
annexation ordinances. Coons alleges the city
violated the Sunshine Law in a variety of ways,
including improper posting of the agenda and declining
to state why a proper agenda posting could not
have been done.
No settlement has yet been approved
by the court, but it appears the city has agreed
to drop the current annexation effort in exchange
for, among other things, Coons' dropping his lawsuit.
Other details are likely to be included in the
pending settlement. It is expected the city will
have to pay the costs of Coons' legal fees, for
instance, and the city will likely have to cover
any and all expense involved in pulling the measure
off the November ballot.
"Hopefully we'll have something
to talk about by the end of the week," said
Bob Shaw, attorney representing Coons in the lawsuit
against the city. Shaw said he has been tied up
in a jury trial in a separate case this week and
did not have an opportunity to confer with Chris
Williams, the city's special annexation attorney,
on Tuesday. Both the city and plaintiff will need
to appear in court when a settlement is reached
for the pact to be approved by the judge.
"There's never a settlement
until everything is in place," Shaw said.
Written discovery had been due
from the city last Friday, in a fast-paced schedule
approved by the court. That potential evidence
requested by the plaintiff included documents
and electronic correspondence related to the development
of the June 7 agenda and other relevant internal
and external communications between city officials
and other parties.
The discovery was not turned over
on Friday, apparently because a verbal settlement
has been reached.
Depositions of mayor Dave Brooks,
city administrator Keith Moody, and attorney Williams
would have begun the week of Oct. 2.
Williams, meanwhile, said the
city is not necessarily admitting to a Sunshine
"We're just saying what it
says there," Williams said, pointing to a
copy of the news release handed out by the city.
The decision by the city to drop
its current effort will not prevent it from coming
back with another, or perhaps the exact same,
proposal at a later date. The next available election
for a ballot issue will be in February.
The news release issued by the
city indicates city officials will contemplate
options on future annexation, apparently including
the option of resubmitting the exact same proposal.
Brooks, in the release, is quoted
as saying: "I know many people in Platte
City are disappointed to see a technical glitch
slow the progress of our developing community.
According to city officials, annexation
is a necessary move to help balance future growth
and economic conditions.
"Annexation really provides
the city with a consistent style of growth,"
says Brooks in the news release. "At the
same time, this balance will help our community
to be more resilient to economic downturns.
The release also claims Brooks
and a majority of the board continue to believe
that annexation will provide added benefits to
area property owners.
"The board's actions this
evening will place the city in its best possible
position for success in the future," Brooks
is quoted as saying.
Brooks denied further comment
when questioned by The Landmark, saying he had
nothing more to say other than what was in the
It presumably will cost the city
considerably more to run a special election in
February than it would have for the questions
to appear on the November ballot, as the city
in February will not be able to split special
election costs with other jurisdictions.
The city had proposed to annex
roughly 6,500 acres, with the questions set to
be voted on Nov. 7 by registered voters in Platte
City and in the proposed annexation areas.
In August the board had voted
by a 4-1 vote with one abstention to place the
annexation questions on the November ballot. The
city was proposing to annex 3,100 acres north
and east of the current city limits and about
3,400 acres south and west of the city.
Annexation opponents have been
pointing to flaws in the city's plan of intent,
including poking holes in what they say are the
city's understated estimated costs of what it
would cost the city to provide services to the
proposed annexation areas. The annexation of the
6,500 acres would have quadrupled the geographical
size of the current city.
Opponents had quietly expressed
optimism in their chances of getting many Platte
City residents to oppose the effort once they
communicated how much it would cost the residents
of the city to help fund the services needed to
serve the annexed areas.
Opponents have also indicated
it would better serve the interests of the city
for officials to be working on a plan to get sewer
service to potential commercial areas east of
Interstate 29 rather than concentrating on an
involuntary annexation effort.