Archive for Thursday, December 16, 2004

Lawsuit challenges annexation

December 16, 2004

The bottom line for two property owners whose land recently was annexed into Lansing was this: the services offered weren't worth the cost in higher property taxes.

So the two property owners, Mark Strein and Herman Visocsky, have filed a lawsuit to fight Lansing's annexation of land south of the city.

Filing of the lawsuit was announced Friday in a news release issued by Citizens Against Lansing Annexation.

"After careful consideration, the Citizens Against Lansing Annexation have decided to appeal Leavenworth County commissioners' decision on annexation," the release said.

The news release highlighted the 30 percent property tax increase the city will impose on property owners in the annexed area with "little or no benefits and restrictions on our lifestyles."

"Having looked at the merits of this case, we believe there to be cause for action," the group said.

Leavenworth attorney Robert Beall represents Strein and Visocsky, who actually are suing the Leavenworth County Commission. The case has been assigned to District Judge David King.

A Nov. 10 decision by the County Commission allowed Lansing to go forward with the annexation. The city followed up that vote with its own annexation ordinance, which went into effect Nov. 29.

Mike Smith, Lansing city administrator, said he knew the potential for a lawsuit challenging the annexation.

"That's OK. That's what the system is all about," he said.

Smith noted filing of the lawsuit by itself didn't change the fact that the area already has been annexed.

"Until a judge rules, nothing changes," he said. "We'll continue to patrol, fix roads, remove snow. People can continue signing up for trash service."

In the lawsuit, Strein and Visocsky contend a Nov. 4 public hearing before the County Commission and during working hours "was not held at a time convenient to those most impacted by the annexation and the hearing should have been held in the evening hours."

Further, they contend that at the Nov. 10 meeting in which the County Commission approved the annexation, the city was allowed to present additional information, but those affected were not allowed to respond.

The lawsuit contends "property owners will be unduly burdened by the annexation without benefit" and that "services being offered are not substantially different from those offered in 1998" when a similar annexation request was rejected by the commission.

Visocsky, who has been a spokesman for Citizens Against Lansing Annexation, said he would have no further comment now that the lawsuit has been filed.

Neither the city nor the county has answered the suit.

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