TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a 2006 agreement between the City of Olathe and the City of Spring Hill regarding land annexation is not legally binding.

In March 2006, the City of Spring Hill and the City of Olathe entered into an agreement to restrict their future growth by establishing boundaries for annexing land adjacent to the two cities. 

The goal of the agreement was to support long-term planning and avoid annexation disputes between the two municipalities. Under the agreement Olathe would not annex south of the boundary line and Spring Hill would not annex north of the boundary line. 

In addition to the agreement with Spring Hill, Olathe entered into similar agreements in 1983 with the City of Lenexa; in 1988 with the City of Gardner; in 1989 with the cities of Gardner and De Soto; and in 2005 with the City of Overland Park. 

The agreement did not list an expiration date, but was to “remain in effect until terminated”. Both cities complied with the agreement until March 2021 when Spring Hill annexed a piece of property north of the boundary line. 

Spring Hill intended to create a commercial development known as Project Extract on a piece of property near 175th Street and Highway 169. 

The City of Olathe then sued Spring Hill to put a temporary restraining order in place to prevent Spring Hill from annexing the disputed property and requested injunctive relief.

On June 14, the district court ruled the previously established agreement wasn’t enforceable and couldn’t prevent the current city council from taking action to annex the property. Later that day the Spring Hill City Council adopted an ordinance to annex the land designated as Project Extract.

On Sept. 23, the court granted Olathe’s motion to transfer the case to the state Supreme Court. The Kansas Supreme Court sided with the district court, stating that the agreement between the two cities was nonbinding. 

FOX4 reached out to the City of Olathe for a comment on the court’s decision and received this statement from city spokesperson Cody Kennedy: 

“The City of Olathe is aware of the opinion and the City’s attorneys are still reviewing. At this time, we do not have further comment but will abide by the decision.”

Curtis Tideman, an attorney representing the City of Spring Hill sent FOX4 this statement: 

“The Kansas Supreme Court today issued its opinion in City of Olathe v. City of Spring Hill, affirming the Johnson County District Court’s dismissal of Olathe’s lawsuit. Olathe had attempted to enforce an Annexation Agreement entered by the governing bodies of both cities back in 2006.  

On March 10, 2021, Olathe filed a Petition seeking an injunction to enforce the Annexation Agreement which, according to Olathe, prohibited Spring Hill’s annexation of property covered by the Annexation Agreement.  Spring Hill argued that the Annexation Agreement was not enforceable because the 2006 governing bodies were not entitled to prevent subsequent governing bodies from exercising statutory annexation authority. 

Johnson County District Court Judge Rhonda Mason agreed and dismissed the Petition.  Olathe appealed but the Kansas Supreme Court today agreed with Judge Mason.  The Kansas Supreme Court found that the Annexation Agreement is “not enforceable,” permitting Spring Hill to proceed with the development of the property in question.”