UPDATE: On Thursday morning, Judge Rhonda Mason spoke with attorneys for the city of Prairie Village and PV United.
The city said she will now take additional time to consider her ruling in this case and release a more in-depth decision in the future.
OLATHE, Kan. — A group against proposed Prairie Village zoning changes went one for three in court Wednesday.
A Johnson County judge ruled one of PV United’s petitions to shake up City Hall can go in front of Prairie Village voters in November. The judge rejected two other petitions.
On Wednesday, Judge Rhonda Mason decided the Stop Rezoning Prairie Village petition will not be allowed on the November ballot.
The petition called for a city ordinance to limit rezoning that would allow more than one family to live on a lot in a single-family residential zoning district.
Mason also rejected a petition that sought to abandon the city’s current form of government.
Mason said a third petition, calling to adopt a mayor-council-manager form of government, does comply with the law.
The new form of government would reduce the power of the mayor by creating a city manager position and cut the number of city council members from 12 to six.
Mason’s decision came after the Prairie Village City Council voted last month to ask a Kansas court to decide if the petitions comply with state law.
“We respect the petition process, but it’s important that it be done properly and it be done in compliance with Kansas law,” Prairie Village City Attorney Joe Hatley said. “And we actually we took the initiative to have a judge make that decision here rather than letting them sue us.”
Lori Sharp, a city council candidate and a member of the PV United group, disagrees with the judge’s decision.
“I think they all should have been placed on the ballot. I think there’s nothing more democratic than letting the voters vote,” Sharp said. “So I believe they all should have been placed on the ballot, and the courts have sided with us in the past on that.”
She helped get 3,700 signatures for the Stop Rezoning petition. Of those 3,700, the Johnson County election commissioner marked about 3,200 signatures as valid.
“There were problems with some of the wording on the petitions, the signatures, the format of the signature pages,” Hatley said, “a lot of things that we felt were not in strict compliance with Kansas law.”
“This was just little technicalities and details that are not allowing the people to vote,” Sharp said.
As for the petition that got the green light from Mason, the county election commissioner told FOX4 his office just needs this information from the city to move forward:
- Proof the petition is valid
- Language of the ballot question
- Election date of the question
The judge said this was a short oral order because the election office needed a decision. The judge said she plans to release a detailed written order later this week.