Basehor, Bonner growth areas focus of meeting
It didn't carry the weight of a Cold War superpower summit, but it was still an historic event last week when city council members and staff of Bonner Springs and Basehor met.
The purpose of the first joint meeting between the two bodies, held Thursday, Nov. 28, at the Kansas Department of Transportation office at 650 N. Kansas Highway 7, was to discuss the future growth areas of each city as well as interlocal agreements between each municipality and Leavenworth County concerning the cities' authority over those areas.
What emerged from the meeting was a more or less solid consensus that the area designated as Area A -- west of Bonner Springs' present boundary at 142nd Street, south of Interstate 70 and north of Loring Road --stretching from 142nd to between 158th and 166th streets would be a future growth area for Bonner Springs.
The other agreed-upon future growth area for Bonner was designated C, which is a piece of land shaped somewhat like a teardrop on its side, stretching about half a mile north of I-70 from 158th Street to about half a mile west of 142nd Street.
Tabled for discussion at a later date was the area designated as B, which would be the area north of Interstate 70 to U.S. Highway 24-40, about half a mile west of 142nd Street. The present boundary for Bonner Springs is at 142nd Street and U.S. 24-40, with a section just about a quarter-mile north of I-70 west of 142nd Street about half a mile.
The interlocal agreements on the future growth boundaries with Leavenworth County -- in which the lettered growth areas fall -- would provide each city with the authority to rule on zoning, subdivisions and building codes for those areas, thus making planning for those areas easier, said Bonner Springs City Manager John Helin. The county would then have to approve each city's zoning regulations as well as any new ones down the road, Helin said, and would also have the last word on rezoning requests.
That prompted one Basehor Council member to ask what was the advantage of the interlocal agreement.
"At least you have a say-so," Helin said, meaning that a rezoning request would not reach the county without a prior approval from the city whose jurisdiction the future growth area falls in.
As for the downsides of the agreement, Helin said, "you have more issues, more responsibility" in those growth areas for planning and zoning.
The official designation of an area as a future growth area also requires that residents of that area be represented on the planning commission, Helin said.
Helin said the staff of each would work together on crafting complementary interlocal agreements with the county, and that he had already given a rough draft to Basehor.
"I think it carries more weight if both cities ask for the same things from the county commissioners," Helin said.
Discussion of storm-water drainage into Wolf Creek, as some Bonner Springs residents had been hoping would come out of the meeting, will have to wait.
Still, Bonner Springs Council member Jeff Harrington said the issue would have to be dealt with because Wolf Creek was a "big problem" and that Leavenworth County should adopt storm-water control measures.
Basehor Council member James Washington said, "Wolf Creek is your problem," and then went on to describe at length his town's drainage issues with Stranger Creek.
Residents have complained that runoff into the creek from Leavenworth County is eroding its banks, causing loss of land.
"We brought up storm water," Helin said. "I think everybody felt like, 'Let's get this stuff (future growth boundaries and interlocal agreements) done' and didn't want to link it to an official request."
Bonner Springs Mayor Clausie Smith later stressed that statements attributed to Leavenworth County Commissioner Dean Oroke in a newspaper article last week were misleading.
The article said Oroke said there are "several areas that Bonner Springs would like to annex."
There was no discussion of annexation of the meeting, and Bonner Springs has no interest in annexation, Smith said.
Also, Smith said contrary to a quote by Oroke in the same article, Bonner Springs would not take away any sales tax from Leavenworth County, nor any other property or school taxes.
Basehor Council President Terry Thomas also said he thought the meeting was productive, and cited the discussion about runoff as particularly helpful.
At its most recent meeting, he said, the Basehor Council discussed building new roads and their affect on drainage to Bonner Springs.
"That probably never would have occurred to us," Thomas said. "That alone made it worthwhile."
Thomas said he hoped the two bodies could meet regularly about every six months, as mentioned during the meeting, and said as Council president he would work to ensure that happens, and that Basehor would host the next one.