PAOLA, Kan. — After roughly six months of review, the Miami County Board of Commissioners has rejected a petition to create the City of Golden.
In April, Jennifer Williams collected hundreds of signatures in support of creating a new city called Golden, in an effort to prevent warehouse development from expanding into northern Miami County.
Following the public hearing in June, the commission held a series of study sessions to get expert testimony as to how creating a new city could affect the county overall. After weeks of expert testimony and legal review, the commission voted 3-1 to reject the petition to incorporate.
“The people that left here today are saddened by the fact that they are probably going to put their homes on the market and leave the area they love, because the writing is on the wall. They don’t want the industrial to come in and there’s nothing we can do about it,” Williams said.
Per state statute, incorporation of a new city requires unanimous approval from the commission. Commissioner Tyler Vaughan voted in favor of incorporation.
“We define progress. I think we, with this decision to deny the incorporation, have limited our ability as a commission to define what progress is,” Vaughan said. “I’m not saying I want to stop progress. I think we’ve limited our ability to define progress and we have become at the whim of somebody who is not in our county, which I think is unfortunate.”
Commissioners Rob Roberts, Phil Dixon and George Pretz voted against creating a new city. Commissioner Danny Gallagher recused himself from voting on the incorporation of Golden.
The commission reviewed 17 factors in the potential incorporation. Fourteen factors for incorporation are dictated by state statute, the remaining three were selected by the commission and were in relation to municipal services, potential alternatives to incorporation and environmental impacts to the Hillsdale Watershed.
Dixon said he felt the most important factor to consider was the overall impact to Hillsdale Lake. He said by not restricting warehouses, he feels it could usher in more industrial development to the county.
“The general effect upon the entire community is factor 14. After hearing testimony from expert witnesses on the subject I feel that there would not be a negative effect to the lake area [if] the warehouses were to be built,” Dixon said.
“I feel that a proposed incorporation would be contrary to the public interest,” Pretz said. “The sparse, rural nature of the proposed city boundaries would be ill served by the governmental burdens that a city requires. Formation of a city would create an additional level of many things. Just to mention a few, an additional level of property tax and many regulations.”
Williams said she is thankful for Vaughn’s support, but was disappointed in the final rationale from the other commissioners.
“The fact that one of them even said bringing in warehouses might not be a bad thing is a kick in the face to every person who lives here, because he’s basically saying it’s ok that we go away so that they (developers) can have that [land],” Williams said.
In review of those factors, Commissioner Roberts said he felt the incorporation of the city would force Golden to compete with nearby cities for resources, despite petition language stating the goal of incorporation would be to maintain the land for agricultural and rural residential uses.
“Factor 14 has to do with the development of the area. ‘The orderly and unreasonable multiplicity of independent municipal governments’,” Roberts said. “It’s in my opinion that adding one more government in the north part of Miami County would just add more complex issues to the development of the area, as well as the negotiations that need to happen.”
Williams said it’s unclear what the next step will be, but she is grateful for the support of her neighbors.
“City or no city we have formed a community. We have gotten strong through this and that has been the best part about this entire process is the people that have come together,” Williams said.