he fee Platte City is shelling out to hire a lawyer and a consultant to help get the city’s annexation proposal passed by voters this November is no small amount.
City administrator Keith Moody estimates that the city will pay consultant Rich Kaplan and lawyer Chris Williams an estimated $50,000 between them just to get the annexation issue to the ballot box in November.
The city will have to pay the men more money if the annexation issue fails in November and the city has a second issue in February 2007 and then takes the results to circuit court to have a “declaratory judgment” made.
“We thought it appropriate to use somebody who specializes in annexation issues,” Mayor Dave Brooks told the media at a press conference last Wednesday afternoon, in response to a question in regard to why the city was not using its normal city attorney, Keith Hicklin. Williams is an attorney with the firm Williams & Campo, P.C., of Lee’s Summit. Kaplan is a consultant in private practice.
There will be a public hearing on Aug. 15 on the matter, Brooks said.
The city put the press conference together in a very hasty fashion, not announcing its plans for a press conference until about two hours before the event.
City officials intentionally kept the press conference a secret until then to prevent other municipalities from poaching the same annexation areas.
“If another city finds out you’re attempting to annex an area, they will sometimes literally try to jump ahead of you,” attorney Williams said.
“I’ve been on the other side of this—when you try to do what seem like the right things—and you get burned. I’ve been on the losing end of this thing,” Williams said.
City officials announced, at the same time they announced the press conference, that annexation would be part of a special meeting of the board of aldermen last Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Up until then the only item on the special meeting agenda was an issue dealing with boulevard designation for certain city streets.
At that meeting the aldermen approved three ordinances:
• The first ordinance declares all of those portions of Second St., Third St., Fourth St. and Marshall Rd. lying between Highway 92 and Main St., and Fourth St. lying between Highway 92 and Thomas Rd. to be “boulevards”—and therefore open for passenger traffic only.
The first reading of the proposed boulevard ordinance was to also declare Running Horse Rd. a “boulevard,” at least the area lying between Highway 92 and Running Horse Terr. Alderman Aaron Jung first proposed tabling the boulevard ordinance. Kenneth Brown seconded Jung’s motion to table, but they were the only two aldermen to vote to table. So, the motion failed.
Jung then made a new motion to allow Highway N to be declared a boulevard but removing Running Horse Rd. from the motion. That motion passed 5-1, with Bill Knighton voting against.
The aldermen voted unanimously, with one abstention (Kenneth Brown) on the second annexation area, in favor of ordinances providing for the annexation of two areas (called “A” and “B”) that share boundaries with Platte City.
The annexation area “B,” which is north and east of the current city limits, includes 3,129 acres.
Annexation area “A,” which is mostly south and west of the current city limits, includes 3,347 acres.
“Annexation really provides the city with a consistent style of growth. At the same time, this balance will help our community to be more resilient to economic downturns, such as declining sales tax,” Brooks said in a press release distributed by lawyer Chris Williams. Brooks continued, “That balance will ultimately allow the city to develop its commercial, industrial, retail and residential areas in a responsible and steady manner.”
If the required number of voters approve the annexations of the two areas, the annexations will increase Platte City’s land mass by 386 percent—or almost four times its current land mass of 2,300 acres.
Platte City’s current estimated population of 5,200 citizens will also grow.
The proposed “A” annexation area is very generally bounded on the west by the Platte River, to the north by the current city limits (excluding Running Horse Rd. and other tracts of land of various sizes) and by 136th St., to the south by Highway D and Cable Bridge Rd., and to the east by Highway N, adjacent to Prairie Creek.
The proposed “B” annexation area is very generally bounded to the north by the Platte River, to the east by Bethel Rd., to the west by the current Platte City limits, and to the south by Interstate 29 (with the Timber Creek subdivision excluded).
At the Wednesday press conference, Brooks emphasized that Platte City meets all statutory requirements to annex the two areas, including a requirement that the city share borders with the annexed areas and that the shared boundaries include at least 15 percent of the length of the annexed areas.
As reported in last week’s edition of The Landmark, this November, city residents and residents within the proposed annexation areas will have the chance to vote on the questions.
If the annexation proposals receive a simple majority (one vote over 50 percent) in both the city and the proposed area (with the pot of votes counted separately), the city will be empowered to proceed with a declaratory judgment for annexation, issued by the circuit court.
Should the questions fail in either annexation area, the city intends to hold a second election in February 2007. In that second election, all votes (city votes and annexation area votes) will be counted together and a 2/3 majority will be needed for approval of the annexation measures, Williams said.
One resident of an unincorporated Platte County area, Trish Stinnett, attended the press conference. Stinnett, who has opposed city annexation attempts in the past, was very vocal in her criticisms of the current two city annexation announcements.
As opposed to the last time around, Stinnett and her husband do not reside in the current annexation areas. But this time they own land in an area proposed to be annexed. “It would seem you’re sub-dividing the voters. Honestly, I’m upset because last summer you said you’d put together a mayor’s advisory board,” Stinnett said.
Brooks said that he is putting an advisory board together but that he never committed to making annexation issues a specific mission of that particular advisory board.
“Our responsibility is to the citizens of Platte City first,” Brooks replied to Stinnett. Brooks emphasized that Platte City has no new area to grow into, and that the city does not want to become landlocked.
City officials will be spending the next few weeks providing information to the residents of the proposed annexation areas. A definite upside to annexation, for the citizens of the annexed areas, will be city services, Brooks noted.
A colored map of the proposed annexation areas will be available at The Landmark’s web site at plattecountylandmark.com