Archive for Thursday, November 4, 2004

Annexation hearing draws angry crowd

November 4, 2004

Residents of the Cedar Lakes subdivision, located south of Basehor off County Road 2, did nothing to mask their displeasure Monday night with plans initiated by the city of Basehor to annex their residential area.

"It's almost theft -- this is putting a legal gun to someone's head," said Michael Mallory, echoing the near unanimous sentiments of all residents attending the public hearing.

"We are completely and utterly against this."

The Basehor City Council hosted a public hearing Monday night concerning the proposed annexation, which would include all homes in the Cedar Lakes subdivision and four businesses in the nearby Briarwood area. According to Basehor city estimates, Cedar Lakes includes 110 homes and approximately 352 residents.

The city will take official action on the annexation during its meeting Nov. 22.

Cedar Lakes residents, who criticized the city's annexation plan as lacking merit and much-needed details, certainly gave council members points to think about before the vote takes place later this month.

"It looks to me like all you want to do is get in our pockets," said Suzanne Bond.

"There's nothing I benefit from in Basehor," said Wanda Strange, who added that she would be "embarrassed" to be a Basehor resident.

Strange, like many Cedar Lakes residents, voiced opposition to the City Council last year regarding a proposed plan by the Pinehurst development to build a 258-unit apartment complex. She said Monday night that the City Council didn't win over Cedar Lakes residents by siding with the Pinehurst developer regarding the proposed apartment complex.

"We came and you didn't listen," she said. "If we were annexed, would you listen? I don't think so."

A civil lawsuit naming the city defendant, filed by Cedar Lakes developer Gary Wells and stemming from the issue Strange referred to, was recently dismissed by the Kansas Court of Appeals. If the city continues its plans for annexation, it's possible the issue could also be settled in court.

Bob Workman said his taxes would be increased more than $700 per year if his home is annexed into Basehor. He told Council members Monday night he would spend that much and more "a year to a legal fee to fight this."

Pete Heaven, an attorney representing Cedar Lakes, said Kansas laws dictate three reasons for annexations: straightening boundaries, generating services and protecting borders.

"I can honestly say, you don't fit any of those," said Heaven, adding that he's only seen one case of involuntary annexation during his 28 years practicing.

"Annexation is a partnership -- if they don't want to be, you shouldn't want them."

David Waters, an attorney working with Heaven, added "it's our opinion it's against Kansas law for (the City Council) to even consider this."

Basehor mayor Joseph Scherer called the annexation of Cedar Lakes "a logical step" and said that the city set plans in motion in 1995 to bring the residential area under the city's jurisdiction.

"The city cannot grow without annexation," Scherer said. "We can't grow without expanding our boundaries."

Being annexed into the city would give Cedar Lakes improved police and emergency services protection and bring the area under a single jurisdiction for things such as planning, zoning, development and building standards, city officials said.

Cedar Lakes residents countered the claim by saying the development's current services are adequate.

Another service the city will provide Cedar Lakes is sewer treatment. The development is currently operating on a lagoon system, which the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has mandated to be shut down. A study commissioned by Leavenworth County government recommended that sewage from Cedar Lakes be pumped to the Basehor Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The city's comprehensive plan states that subdivisions should be considered for annexation upon connection to the city's treatment plant or when corporate boundaries are adjacent to the subdivision. By annexing the Pinehurst area in 2002, the city limits are contiguous with Cedar Lakes and Briarwood.

The City Council did not tip its hand one way or the other Monday night as to whether it would move forward with the Cedar Lakes and Briarwood annexations.

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