EDGERTON, Kan. — Property owners in unincorporated Johnson County are calling on Attorney General Derek Schmidt to settle a land dispute. 

A lawsuit filed by the group Protect Rural JoCo claims the City of Edgerton illegally annexed land near South Gardner Road back in 2020. 

Annexation Timeline: 

On Dec. 10, 2020, the Edgerton City Council approved an ordinance to annex land from the unincorporated portion of the county into the city limits. This annexation included 40 acres near 199th St. and Gardner Road, and an adjoining 6.9 acre segment on the west side of Gardner Road. 

Map of annexed property approved Dec. 10 

The following week during a special city council meeting on Dec. 17, the council voted to annex seven additional pieces of land on the east side of Gardner Road between 199th St. and 215th St., and Gardner Road to Moonlight Road. 

Map of annexed property approved Dec. 17

Prior to the request for annexation, the land in both cases was purchased by various LLC’s affiliated with NorthPoint Development including Wellsville Farms, LLC, Hillsdale Land & Cattle LLC, East Kansas Land & Cattle LLC and South JOCO Farms, LLC.  

Plaintiffs with Protect Rural JoCo argued the main intent for annexation of the first property was to eventually annex land on the other side of Gardner Road for future development of the existing Intermodal Logistics Park.

Jennifer Williams, a rural homeowner and member of Protect Rural JoCo, said the annexation of the first property led to the creation of a narrow corridor. A narrow corridor is a piece of land used to connect noncontiguous tracts of property, and is prohibited by state statute.

“The statute prevents them from using a narrow corridor, because it’s designed to be a consistent flow of smart growth and development so as the area is developed, it’s consistent with what’s around it,” Williams said. “If you don’t have access to a chunk of land and you use just a little, narrow strip [of land] to get access it’s really not what the neighborhood is about. It’s not what the surrounding area is like.”  

City attorneys argued all annexations have been done at the request of the property owner in what is called a consent annexation. Under Kansas law, a consent annexation requires a formal request from the property owner and for the proposed property to border existing city boundaries. 

If a property owner requests an annexation and their land does not touch the city, it’s considered an island annexation and would require approval from the city and the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). 

According to court documents, the city argues while the plaintiffs live within 1,000 feet of the annexed areas, neighboring property owners do not have a right to protest the annexation, because they do not live within the annexed property. 

Protect Rural JoCo LLC filed the lawsuit in April 2021. In early June of 2022, 10th District Judge James Vano ruled that the neighboring property owners don’t have legal standing to challenge Edgerton’s annexation. Only the City of Edgerton, the property owner or the state Attorney General have the ability to challenge the annexation. 

“They [the city] don’t allow residential next to industrial [development]. Yet, they are pushing it on their neighbors knowing that the statute keeps our hands tied. It’s very frustrating, because we have no voice and that’s why it’s even more imperative that this be upheld by the Attorney General, because if we have no voice and no due process, where does that leave us?” Williams said. 

During the BOCC meeting on June 23, Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara made a motion for the BOCC to request the Attorney General’s office take action regarding the Edgerton annexation. Without support from a majority of the board, that motion failed 2-4. 

Williams said the neighboring property owners intend to appeal, but have requested Attorney General Derek Schmidy to step in and review the case. 

FOX4 reached out to the Attorney General’s Office about the case and as of Wednesday is still waiting on a reply. Officials from the City of Edgerton declined to comment on the lawsuit, but forwarded FOX4 this letter sent to BOCC Chair Ed Eilert.