New lands: city council approves annexation
The Basehor City Council approved the annexation of land earmarked for future commercial and industrial development, south of Kansas Highway 24/40, during its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 18.
But the approval comes with a warning from nearby residents.
"If you guys annex him and he goes to any kind of industrial, you got a problem, a big one," Briarwood resident Richard White said of the proposed 95- to 97- acre industrial area being developed by Miles Excavating.
White said the proposed industrial area has caused numerous problems with his property, such as the constant burning at the development.
"I haven't opened a window at my house in the last three years," he said.
And he wasn't alone in opposing the development.
Joseph Nick, Sr., and Joseph Hotujac, also nearby residents, spoke in opposition against the development at the Tuesday night meeting.
"I believe the city will give more than they ever get back," Nick said.
Hotujac, a City Council candidate, has campaigned on fighting developments that negatively affect the property values of neighboring residents.
"He's going to have to control something because we're not going to put up with it," said Hotujac, citing the frequent burning, and dust and traffic problems created by the development.
"There has to be some solution made. He's going to have to contain it without infecting the rest of us."
Opponents also pointed to a 7-1 decision by the Leavenworth County Planning Commission, a board that denied Miles rezoning in January.
The company wanted the land use changed from residential to business and industrial use.
However, the rezoning was denied because the current classification is residential and that a decision to rezone to industrial should be made by the Basehor City Council, county officials said.
There were no representatives of Miles Excavating at the City Council meeting.
But the City Council unanimously approved the land's annexation.
City officials said Tuesday night's approval had nothing to do with rezoning or the industrial park's proposed plans.
"It's just annexation," Basehor city codes administrator Mike Hooper said, adding that the developer would still have to submit plans and receive approval through the proper channels.
Hooper said the developer should be submitting plans in coming weeks, but the earliest action could be taken on them is during the May City Council meeting.
Following the meeting, Nick called the meeting a farce and claimed the hearing was illegal.
"We no longer live in a democratic government, we live in a dictatorship," Nick said.
"Right now, they're not listening to the people, they're listening to the developers."
His argument centered on two things: City Council president Julian Espinoza voting on the issue and whether it's proper for City Council member Joe Odle to have voted on the annexation because of his relationship with a Miles employee.
Espinoza acted as interim mayor Tuesday night because current mayor, Joseph Scherer is out of town. And Odle is the brother-in-law of Miles Excavating Human Relations director Gus Fasone.
"As far as I'm concerned the whole meeting should have been illegal," Nick said.
"Joe has no right voting on anything for Miles," he added. "When you vote for something pertaining to family, you're padding your own pocket."
But city officials denied there was any wrong doing at the Tuesday night meeting.
Basehor city attorney John Thompson said, according to state statutes, Odle would not have to recuse himself from a vote on the annexation unless he had a financial interest in the development.
"The statute indicates he must have a financial interest," Thompson said. "In order for a conflict of interest, Joe would, have to have an interest in Miles company."
Odle said he has no financial interest in the development and whenever conversations between he and Fasone have steered toward the development, he has directed his brother-in-law to city officials.
"I've forwarded him to Joe Scherer and Mike Hooper and that's exactly (who he's talked too)," Odle said.
And city officials said Espinoza, by law, retains voting rights when standing in for the mayor.
"All I'm doing is filling in," Espinoza said. "I do not lose my voting rights. Joe didn't when he was interim mayor."