PAOLA, Kan. — Ahead of the vote to potentially create Kansas’ newest city, the Miami County Board of Commissioners are hosting a series of study sessions to get expert testimony about how creating that city could affect the county overall.
Wednesday, County Attorneys Jim Kaup and Sheila Schultz lead the review of the criteria for incorporation.
County commissioners will consider 17 factors in the potential incorporation of the City of Golden, Kansas. Fourteen factors for incorporation are dictated by state statute, the remaining three will be in relation to the environmental impacts to the Hillsdale Watershed.
In addition to the discussion on incorporation criteria, the commission also reviewed several different land use and annexation alternatives if the City of Golden is not established. Alternatives to incorporation include:
Acquiring property in the proposed boundary of the City of Golden:
Land cannot be annexed into a city if the property is owned by another city or county. If Miami County leaders choose to acquire property in the proposed city of Golden instead of incorporating the city, any potential annexation from the City of Edgerton would need approval from the Miami County Board of Commissioners.
Creating an improvement district:
If property owners petitioned to create an improvement district the land use could remain the same. Kaup said establishing an improvement district would not grant home-rule authority like incorporation would. The creation of an improvement district cannot stop a city from annexing into the proposed area, but could preserve what the land is used for. Because the land is currently owned by private residents, the City of Edgerton does not need permission from the commission to annex land across the Miami County, Johnson County line.
Property owners placing conservation easements on their land:
If property owners choose to place a conservation easement on their land, it could restrict what the land can be used for. Kaup said conservation easements do not prevent annexation, but would allow homeowners to insure their land maintain certain rural characteristics.
Challenging the annexation or rezoning of land:
Per state statute, all rezoning requests require a public hearing and that the developer notify neighboring property owners. Any legal challenges to the annexation or rezoning of a property would include reviewing if a city took the proper steps to notify neighboring property owners and if the final annexation or rezoning decision was reasonable.
In lieu of a city annexing into Miami County, a city could negotiate for the power to dictate the land use of an un-annexed property. An extraterritorial zoning would not limit a city’s ability to annex into the county, but could open doors for negotiations between city and county leaders on what the land is used for. The agreement could include restrictions on rezoning or the use of land for commercial or industrial uses. All extraterritorial zoning agreements would require approval from the Miami County Board of Commissioners.
If the county were to enter into an annexation agreement with the City of Edgerton or any other local municipality, the two governing bodies would work together to establish boundaries for annexation. This would create a limit on annexation beyond a certain geographic location that could be defined by a street, county line or natural barrier.
Kaup said land use cannot be dictated by an annexation agreement, that power would be left to the property owner. All annexation agreements would require approval from the Kansas Attorney General.
The Miami County Board of Commissioners will continue hearing expert testimony for the potential incorporation of the City of Golden on Wednesday, September 29.