Archive for Friday, March 25, 2005

Judge upholds annexation

March 25, 2005

A Leavenworth County District judge has sided with the city of Lansing and Leavenworth County regarding last year's annexation by the city of 1,292 acres south of town.

Leavenworth County District Judge Robert Bednar, in a ruling Thursday, upheld the annexation.

Bednar did not rule on the merits of the annexation per se, but said the city and county adhered to legal requirements placed on cities seeking to annex properties.

"This Court is not allowed to try this matter 'de novo' (anew)," Bednar wrote in the nine-page decision. "While the Court might look at the evidence presented and draw different conclusions than the County, it is not the role of the Court to substitute its judgment for that of the commissioners unless their decision is not supported by substantial evidence."

Mark Strein and Herman Visocsky filed suit in December to fight the Nov. 10 decision by the Leavenworth County Commission that 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.

Visocsky and Strein both own land in the affected area and charged in their lawsuit that the County Commission in approving the annexation had acted arbitrarily. They further contended that they had "suffered manifest injury" as a result of the annexation and would be "unduly burdened : without benefit."

Bednar found otherwise. He noted the property owners would receive services including street improvements, lighting, trash pickup and police protection with the annexation.

"The decision of the county was based upon substantial evidence to support a finding that the tax burden to the annexed land owners came with material and substantial accompanying benefits. The County's decision approving annexation would not cause manifest injury to the land owners annexed," he wrote.

Neither Strein, Visocsky nor their attorney, Robert Beall, could be reached for comment Friday.

Mike Smith, Lansing City administrator, said the judge's ruling affirmed what the city's stance has been all along.

The ruling, Smith said, "was exactly what our briefs said."

"We've done exactly what the law has said we should do," Smith said.

He said he thought any further appeal would be met with the same result.

"I guess they can appeal it on up," Smith said, "But the county has agreed with our view. One judge has agreed. I think it'd be very difficult to get another judge or group of judges to rule any differently."

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