he city of Platte City is ready to raise the potentially controversial topic of annexation once again.
In a press conference and special meeting held Wednesday afternoon/early evening, city officials announced the intention to annex two large areas of land contiguous to the current city limits.
At a press conference which began at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Mayor Dave Brooks and special legal counsel hired by the city announced the city’s intention to annex two unincorporated areas near the city’s current boundaries.
The proposal calls for annexing 3,129 acres north and east of the city and 3,347 acres south and west of the city.
The board of aldermen was set to discuss the first reading of the ordinances at a meeting set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, after this issue of The Landmark had gone to press.
“The board is expected to approve the first reading of the ordinances, thereby moving the issue to a public hearing in August of this year for further discussion,” a news release distributed at the press conference reports.
“It is our intent to adopt the resolutions tonight,” Brooks confirmed at the press conference.
Brooks said a public hearing would be held on the matter on Aug. 15. In the meantime, the city will gather information and prepare a plan of providing city services to the areas proposed to be annexed, which is required by law. Brooks said he sees annexation as being critical to the future of the city.
“Annexation really provides the city with a consistent style of growth and at the same time, this balance will help our community to be more resilient to economic downturns, such as declining sales tax, for example,” the mayor said.
A public vote on the proposed annexation is scheduled to be held in November, according to attorney Chris Williams, whose law firm, Williams and Campo of Lee’s Summit, has been hired as special legal counsel by the city to lead the annexation effort.
City residents and residents within the proposed annexation areas will have the chance to vote on the questions in November. If the proposals receive a simple majority in both the city and the proposed area, the city is allowed to proceed with a declaratory judgment for annexation.
Should the questions fail in either location, a second election would be held in February. In that second election, all votes are counted together and a two-thirds majority for approval is needed, Williams said.
It is notable that the current annexation proposal deals with land that is not heavily populated, unlike a previous city annexation attempt in 2003.
Platte City has a history of walking a fine line in regard to the Sunshine Law and this week’s happenings followed that pattern. Notification of Wednesday’s special meeting came rather strangely. On Tuesday, city hall faxed a notice of special meeting to be held at 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, with the only item listed on the agenda being an ordinance dealing with boulevard designations for certain city streets.
Public notice of special meetings and the agenda for that special meeting must be posted at lest 24 hours in advance of the meeting. It is extremely uncommon, and arguably an attempt to circumvent public awareness, for a public body to attempt to amend the agenda for a special meeting after posting that original notice 24 hours in advance of the session.
Williams explained the city did things this way because of annexation law that dictates the first city to introduce an approve an intent to annex certain areas has first rights to annex that particular property. The city kept its intentions secret to avoid competition for annexing the areas, he said.
Look for more information on this topic, including a more detailed description and map of the proposed annexation areas in next week’s issue of The Landmark or on the newspaper’s web site at plattecountylandmark.com