Miami County Commissioners hear residents’ Golden petition | gardnernews.com – Gardnernews.com

Lynne Hermansen

Special to The Gardner News

Miami County Commissioners held a four and a half hour public hearing June 23 to hear citizen input about the formation of Golden, Kansas.

Nearly 300 people have signed a petition wanting to establish a new nine square mile third class city named Golden that would lie north of Hillsdale Lake in Northern Miami County next to the Johnson County border . It would have approximately 770 residents.

The public hearing was held at the Paola Middle School Auditorium, 405 N. Hospital Drive with a few hundred in attendance.

Rob Roberts, Miami County chairman, said they couldn’t respond to statements made at the hearing and were only there to let people speak, listen to citizens. They will then study the statements and gather information before making decisions at later commission meetings.

Roberts said in order for Golden to become a new city in Kansas there would have to be an unanimous vote from the commission since it is within five miles of Edgerton, Gardner and Spring Hill.

“It’s a real pleasure to be a part of this process,” he said.

Danny Gallagher, commissioner, wasn’t in attendance. Jim Cowl, Miami County attorney, said Gallagher has recused himself due to a conflict of interest.

“He was concerned certain relationships would make his decisions unfair or impartial,” he said.

Cowl said the petition created and signed by citizens wanting to establish Golden as a third class city was sufficient and met technical requirements.

There were misunderstandings, however, he said. Cowl said the county’s decisions weren’t delayed and state law sets the time frame. “We want all sides to have time to prepare,” he said.

Commissioners have been directed to consider 14 factors from state law K.S.A. 15-121. They added two additional factors for what Golden petitioners. Those are how Golden residents would provide municipal services, and alternatives to incorporation that would achieve their objective to preserve their large lot residential and agricultural way of life while accommodating new development.

Jennifer Williams, petition organizer, spoke first at the hearing. Williams said she resides close to 225th street and saw a few years ago how Johnson County and the Southwest Johnson County Board refused to dispute Logistics Park. “We were told everything goes through Edgerton,” she said.

Williams said the train had left the station on trying to work with Edgerton, and residents had decided it would be easier to start a new city to seal up the infiltration of the industrial warehouses. “Our area is too beautiful and too important,” she said. “We want to put decisions back in the hands of residents.”

Williams said the people who signed the Golden petition are like minded in wanting to be in the country, be left alone and preserve the land. Williams said they were told they had no authority against development and warehouses.

“We were told we are just a holding designation,” she said. “We are vulnerable.” Williams said they are trying to protect the rural lifestyle they love. “We are trying to use the law in our favor that has been used against us.”

Most petitioners at the hearing wore yellow t-shirts stating “We are Golden.” They addressed similar concerns about what would happen to their properties if they weren’t incorporated.

Petitioners shared concerns about Edgerton’s partnership with North Point Development north of the Miami County line. Their concerns are: to annex land for more industrial warehouses as part of Logistics Park, road safety and continued heavy semi-truck traffic, noise, lights and pollution from the warehouses, their rural lifestyles, children’s safety, property values, blight left behind when the companies abandon the warehouses and the preservation of Hillsdale Lake.

Brian Parker, William’s hired consultant, said a group of citizens wanted to have a voice in their government. Parker said he had prepared something similar to an inter local agreement for Golden and Miami County. Golden would come to the county to negotiate municipal services: roads, law enforcement, etc., he said.

Parker said there was a misconception that cities were always prepared to provide all municipal needs when they first formed. “Kansas cities started as water stops along the railroad,” he said. “And when cities incorporated in the 1870s and 1880s they didn’t have a police force.” Parker said they want to empower the people to determine their own future.

Commissioners were allowed to ask speakers questions.

Tyler Vaughan and George Pretz, commissioners, said they wanted to know what mill levy’s Williams had been referring to at one point.

Williams said they estimated a three year mill levy. “We don’t have to have a city hall,” she said. “It can go back to the roads.”

Darcy Domoney, local attorney, represented residents opposed to the establishment of Golden.

“Over 100 taxpayers oppose,” he said. “There is opposition in this city.” Domoney said there were approximately 4,300 acres of land either inside the proposed area for Golden or adjacent to Golden’s proposed city boundaries that are opposed.

“They are not for or against warehouse development, but they want to preserve their individual property rights,” he said. “They don’t want another layer of government.” Domoney said no coherent plan exists for Golden, and their one goal is to stop Logistics Park. “Edgerton is painted as bad, and my folks aren’t single minded,” he said.

Domoney said it might be a missed opportunity for Miami County to have a commercial tax base. “It sets a dangerous precedent and several other places in the county might want to do the same thing,” he said. “Things always cost more than you expect.”

Domoney compared Linn Valley, Kansas, as an example to Golden. There no clearly stated benefits to becoming part of a city, and people didn’t want further restrictions, he said.

Domoney said who knows what Golden’s agenda will be in the future, and he found it a unique concept to form a city without municipal services. “It’s a one-horse show,” he said. “Stop the warehouse development coming into Miami County.”

Domoney said the people against Golden want country living and believe the county will protect them if necessary. “Simply put people don’t want to live in a city,” he said.

Vaughan, commissioner, said he wanted to know what particular ordinances they were concerned about or if it was a general concern.

Domoney said they were worried restrictive truck traffic could hurt their property values.

Tara Ingel, Paola middle school teacher, said she didn’t move out to the country to be part of an industrial park. “You’re leaving us to the wolves,” she said.

Charles Cook said he lives 1/4th of a mile from Edgerton annexation and has seen Edgerton disregard Hillsdale. “The current path is only good for Edgerton,” he said. “It destroys property values and is not smart development.”

Cook said you couldn’t compare Linn Valley to Golden because Linn Valley is a golf course community. “The whole point is to give everyone a say, and no outside group can come in,” he said. “The main goal is to give voice to people as we have been largely ignored.”

Lynn Smith, said he was a 37 year resident near 215th street, and Golden gives them the possibility of maintaining community.

Leigh Dye, resident, said people were selling their homes, so they won’t have to deal with the negative impact of the warehouses. “You are our only hope,” she said. “You have one of two choices: Golden or warehouses.”

Tim Dye, resident, said it seemed like the process was taking forever. “The longer it takes it gives Edgerton null and void,” he said. “I think Edgerton and Northpoint are full of corruption, and it will seep into Miami, so God help us all.”

Pretz, commissioner, said he wanted to know if there was a concern Edgerton could annex more before a decision on Golden was made.

Cowl, attorney, said it was a methodical and not delayed process and shouldn’t be a concern.

Dye said he wanted to know if Edgerton and Northpoint came in to annex if they could still proceed with their petition.

Ron Elrod, resident, said his family had lived in the area since 1854. “I don’t like big trucks and warehouses,” he said.

Elrod said the attorney at their previous meetings said they had complete control and could put up signs while Miami County would still have to provide municipal services.

“We kept being told Miami County would take care of everything,” he said. “And anyone in the city area could opt out if they want to opt out.”

Elrod said he didn’t want to live in a city and Golden would keep Miami County from having a fair tax base. “Taxes will be so high is normal people would lose everything,” he said. “We were told the invasion of Edgerton and Northpoint isn’t illegal, but it is immoral.”

Charlene Stuttart, resident, said no one moved to the area seeking to live in a city, but they never thought a city in Johnson County would gain control of 199th and 215th streets.

“When Northpoint purchases land there is no desire to keep residents living there,” she said.

Stuttart Don Roberts, Edgerton mayor, posted on the city’s website that Edgerton expects to annex Miami County land.

John Weaver, resident, said living in the county isn’t something you can describe but a feeling you have. “We don’t want the things we enjoy taken away from us,” he said.

Michael Ludwig, resident, said it was a collusion of city government and corporations and they didn’t want to be at the mercy of a town 15 miles away. “The worst part is citizens are completely helpless to stop this, and we were told it sucks to be you by governments,” he said.

Mary Cook, resident, said they felt gut punched and had had several meetings with Edgerton. “They either made fun of us or ignored us,” she said. Cook said establishing Golden was the only option they found viable.

“This area will be devastated,” she said. “You will turn it from the jewel of the area, and it will become the armpit of Kansas.”

Jennifer Whitlow, resident, said she was experiencing the warehouse destruction firsthand as her property sat at the Northern-most point of the county near the Polaris plant.

“I never thought I’d be for a city, but it’s the only way to preserve and have a representative voice,” she said. Whitlow said they were surrounded by properties purchased by Northpoint and wanted to know if Miami County could protect them.

“Johnson County either can’t or won’t,” she said. “We don’t want to see Miami be at the mercy of a city miles and miles away.”

Jerot Pearson, Hidden Prairie subdivision developer, said what was north of the county line was a machine that would continue to move south and the residents were sitting ducks. “Their livelihood is at risk and what is to the North is a risk,” he said.

Carl Peer, resident, said the Logistics Park master plan had originally been for development North of I-35 and not for it to jump South.

“As years progressed people started to see Northpoint property acquisitions were shell corporations,” he said. Peer said three years ago residents were told by a Northpoint representative that 100 giant warehouses would be spread out.

“That was a boldface lie,” he said. “Edgerton figured out how to jump to the Southside and very seldom do common residents have a choice against developers.”

Lesley Rigny, Miami County conservation coordinator, said they weren’t taking a position, but that the warehouses will impact the Hillsdale watershed and the Bullcreek water threshold was already at a critical level of 20 percent.

Rigny said it creates a disruption of water, storm water etc, and the ability to support aquatic life and lake use. Rigny said they hope that whoever was in charge of managing the area would take conserving the watershed seriously.

Indigo Williams, daughter of Jennifer Williams, said home is where the heart is, and her home and heart were here. Williams said she loved taking walks without fear of getting killed.

“Watching big trucks drive down the road scares me,” she said. “I worry they would crash into my yard and kill me.” Williams said she loved her chickens, and there were already so many farms being turned into warehouses that she didn’t want to see that happen to hers. “They think we give up easily but we don’t,” she said.

Charlotte O’Hara, Johnson County 3rd District commissioner, said she was speaking as a citizen, and Johnson County has been totally ineffective in helping.

“Southwest Johnson County has been obliterated,” she said. “This is not about job creation or community-but the bottom line period.”

O’Hara said residents knew this was a Hail Mary. “Edgerton is now a one company town—Northpoint,” she said. “Give residents a chance because Gardner has come down to 199th street now to build a firewall against this.”

Lloyd Lynn, resident, said Edgerton hadn’t annexed anything that wasn’t voluntary.

Other residents in opposition of Golden said they wanted to do what they wanted with their land without interference from a city and city ordinances.

Tom Bach, Spring Hill resident, said people in favor of supporting Golden had stated a lot of inaccuracies, and his property was excluded because he wasn’t interested in a city.

Bach said Golden’s budget would be predicated on Linn Valley, but Linn Valley and Linn Valley Lakes were two separate communities with two separate budgets.

“I’ve never known a city formulated in Kansas without some proposal of services,” he said.

Bach said he wanted to know where all the infrastructure was, and what it would cost Golden because it’s not just a city for now but forever. “Where are the property rights of those that don’t want to be in a city,” he said. “They want you to preserve their property rights at the expense of ours.”

The public hearing legally remains open because testimony ended before the public meeting notice time of 8 p.m.

The public hearing will continue next June 30 as commissioners continue to accept responses to what was stated. Written testimony can be submitted to the Miami County Clerk until 4:30 p.m., June 30. Materials can be submitted through email to [email protected] or in person at the Miami County Administration Building in Paola.

The decision making process will take place in two more meetings after the public hearing closes. The commission will hear from expert witnesses ranging from the sheriff, public works director, County appraiser and state officials on various topics and deliberate at these meetings. Roberts said the second and third meetings will take place in the commission chambers in the county administration building and will be open to the public. Those meetings have not yet been scheduled.

five miles of Edgerton, Gardner and Spring Hill.

“It’s a real pleasure to be a part of this process,” he said.

Danny Gallagher, commissioner, wasn’t in attendance. Jim Cowl, Miami County attorney, said Gallagher has recused himself due to a conflict of interest.

“He was concerned certain relationships would make his decisions unfair or impartial,” he said.

Cowl said the petition created and signed by citizens wanting to establish Golden as a third class city was sufficient and met technical requirements.

There were misunderstandings, however, he said. Cowl said the county’s decisions weren’t delayed and state law sets the time frame. “We want all sides to have time to prepare,” he said.

Commissioners have been directed to consider 14 factors from state law K.S.A. 15-121. They added two additional factors for what Golden petitioners. Those are how Golden residents would provide municipal services, and alternatives to incorporation that would achieve their objective to preserve their large lot residential and agricultural way of life while accommodating new development.

Jennifer Williams, petition organizer, spoke first at the hearing. Williams said she resides close to 225th street and saw a few years ago how Johnson County and the Southwest Johnson County Board refused to dispute Logistics Park. “We were told everything goes through Edgerton,” she said.

Williams said the train had left the station on trying to work with Edgerton, and residents had decided it would be easier to start a new city to seal up the infiltration of the industrial warehouses. “Our area is too beautiful and too important,” she said. “We want to put decisions back in the hands of residents.”

Williams said the people who signed the Golden petition are like minded in wanting to be in the country, be left alone and preserve the land. Williams said they were told they had no authority against development and warehouses.

“We were told we are just a holding designation,” she said. “We are vulnerable.” Williams said they are trying to protect the rural lifestyle they love. “We are trying to use the law in our favor that has been used against us.”

Most petitioners at the hearing wore yellow t-shirts stating “We are Golden.” They addressed similar concerns about what would happen to their properties if they weren’t incorporated.

Petitioners shared concerns about Edgerton’s partnership with North Point Development north of the Miami County line. Their concerns are: to annex land for more industrial warehouses as part of Logistics Park, road safety and continued heavy semi-truck traffic, noise, lights and pollution from the warehouses, their rural lifestyles, children’s safety, property values, blight left behind when the companies abandon the warehouses and the preservation of Hillsdale Lake.

Brian Parker, William’s hired consultant, said a group of citizens wanted to have a voice in their government. Parker said he had prepared something similar to an inter local agreement for Golden and Miami County. Golden would come to the county to negotiate municipal services: roads, law enforcement, etc., he said.

Parker said there was a misconception that cities were always prepared to provide all municipal needs when they first formed. “Kansas cities started as water stops along the railroad,” he said. “And when cities incorporated in the 1870s and 1880s they didn’t have a police force.” Parker said they want to empower the people to determine their own future.

Commissioners were allowed to ask speakers questions.

Tyler Vaughan and George Pretz, commissioners, said they wanted to know what mill levy’s Williams had been referring to at one point.

Williams said they estimated a three year mill levy. “We don’t have to have a city hall,” she said. “It can go back to the roads.”

Darcy Domoney, local attorney, represented residents opposed to the establishment of Golden.

“Over 100 taxpayers oppose,” he said. “There is opposition in this city.” Domoney said there were approximately 4,300 acres of land either inside the proposed area for Golden or adjacent to Golden’s proposed city boundaries that are opposed.

“They are not for or against warehouse development, but they want to preserve their individual property rights,” he said. “They don’t want another layer of government.” Domoney said no coherent plan exists for Golden, and their one goal is to stop Logistics Park. “Edgerton is painted as bad, and my folks aren’t single minded,” he said.

Domoney said it might be a missed opportunity for Miami County to have a commercial tax base. “It sets a dangerous precedent and several other places in the county might want to do the same thing,” he said. “Things always cost more than you expect.”

Domoney compared Linn Valley, Kansas, as an example to Golden. There no clearly stated benefits to becoming part of a city, and people didn’t want further restrictions, he said.

Domoney said who knows what Golden’s agenda will be in the future, and he found it a unique concept to form a city without municipal services. “It’s a one-horse show,” he said. “Stop the warehouse development coming into Miami County.”

Domoney said the people against Golden want country living and believe the county will protect them if necessary. “Simply put people don’t want to live in a city,” he said.

Vaughan, commissioner, said he wanted to know what particular ordinances they were concerned about or if it was a general concern.

Domoney said they were worried restrictive truck traffic could hurt their property values.

Tara Ingel, Paola middle school teacher, said she didn’t move out to the country to be part of an industrial park. “You’re leaving us to the wolves,” she said.

Charles Cook said he lives 1/4th of a mile from Edgerton annexation and has seen Edgerton disregard Hillsdale. “The current path is only good for Edgerton,” he said. “It destroys property values and is not smart development.”

Cook said you couldn’t compare Linn Valley to Golden because Linn Valley is a golf course community. “The whole point is to give everyone a say, and no outside group can come in,” he said. “The main goal is to give voice to people as we have been largely ignored.”

Lynn Smith, said he was a 37 year resident near 215th street, and Golden gives them the possibility of maintaining community.

Leigh Dye, resident, said people were selling their homes, so they won’t have to deal with the negative impact of the warehouses. “You are our only hope,” she said. “You have one of two choices: Golden or warehouses.”

Tim Dye, resident, said it seemed like the process was taking forever. “The longer it takes it gives Edgerton null and void,” he said. “I think Edgerton and Northpoint are full of corruption, and it will seep into Miami, so God help us all.”

Pretz, commissioner, said he wanted to know if there was a concern Edgerton could annex more before a decision on Golden was made.

Cowl, attorney, said it was a methodical and not delayed process and shouldn’t be a concern.

Dye said he wanted to know if Edgerton and Northpoint came in to annex if they could still proceed with their petition.

Ron Elrod, resident, said his family had lived in the area since 1854. “I don’t like big trucks and warehouses,” he said.

Elrod said the attorney at their previous meetings said they had complete control and could put up signs while Miami County would still have to provide municipal services.

“We kept being told Miami County would take care of everything,” he said. “And anyone in the city area could opt out if they want to opt out.”

Elrod said he didn’t want to live in a city and Golden would keep Miami County from having a fair tax base. “Taxes will be so high is normal people would lose everything,” he said. “We were told the invasion of Edgerton and Northpoint isn’t illegal, but it is immoral.”

Charlene Stuttart, resident, said no one moved to the area seeking to live in a city, but they never thought a city in Johnson County would gain control of 199th and 215th streets.

“When Northpoint purchases land there is no desire to keep residents living there,” she said.

Stuttart Don Roberts, Edgerton mayor, posted on the city’s website that Edgerton expects to annex Miami County land.

John Weaver, resident, said living in the county isn’t something you can describe but a feeling you have. “We don’t want the things we enjoy taken away from us,” he said.

Michael Ludwig, resident, said it was a collusion of city government and corporations and they didn’t want to be at the mercy of a town 15 miles away. “The worst part is citizens are completely helpless to stop this, and we were told it sucks to be you by governments,” he said.

Mary Cook, resident, said they felt gut punched and had had several meetings with Edgerton. “They either made fun of us or ignored us,” she said. Cook said establishing Golden was the only option they found viable.

“This area will be devastated,” she said. “You will turn it from the jewel of the area, and it will become the armpit of Kansas.”

Jennifer Whitlow, resident, said she was experiencing the warehouse destruction firsthand as her property sat at the Northern-most point of the county near the Polaris plant.

“I never thought I’d be for a city, but it’s the only way to preserve and have a representative voice,” she said. Whitlow said they were surrounded by properties purchased by Northpoint and wanted to know if Miami County could protect them.

“Johnson County either can’t or won’t,” she said. “We don’t want to see Miami be at the mercy of a city miles and miles away.”

Jerot Pearson, Hidden Prairie subdivision developer, said what was north of the county line was a machine that would continue to move south and the residents were sitting ducks. “Their livelihood is at risk and what is to the North is a risk,” he said.

Carl Peer, resident, said the Logistics Park master plan had originally been for development North of I-35 and not for it to jump South.

“As years progressed people started to see Northpoint property acquisitions were shell corporations,” he said. Peer said three years ago residents were told by a Northpoint representative that 100 giant warehouses would be spread out.

“That was a boldface lie,” he said. “Edgerton figured out how to jump to the Southside and very seldom do common residents have a choice against developers.”

Lesley Rigny, Miami County conservation coordinator, said they weren’t taking a position, but that the warehouses will impact the Hillsdale watershed and the Bullcreek water threshold was already at a critical level of 20 percent.

Rigny said it creates a disruption of water, storm water etc, and the ability to support aquatic life and lake use. Rigny said they hope that whoever was in charge of managing the area would take conserving the watershed seriously.

Indigo Williams, daughter of Jennifer Williams, said home is where the heart is, and her home and heart were here. Williams said she loved taking walks without fear of getting killed.

“Watching big trucks drive down the road scares me,” she said. “I worry they would crash into my yard and kill me.” Williams said she loved her chickens, and there were already so many farms being turned into warehouses that she didn’t want to see that happen to hers. “They think we give up easily but we don’t,” she said.

Charlotte O’Hara, Johnson County 3rd District commissioner, said she was speaking as a citizen, and Johnson County has been totally ineffective in helping.

“Southwest Johnson County has been obliterated,” she said. “This is not about job creation or community-but the bottom line period.”

O’Hara said residents knew this was a Hail Mary. “Edgerton is now a one company town—Northpoint,” she said. “Give residents a chance because Gardner has come down to 199th street now to build a firewall against this.”

Lloyd Lynn, resident, said Edgerton hadn’t annexed anything that wasn’t voluntary.

Other residents in opposition of Golden said they wanted to do what they wanted with their land without interference from a city and city ordinances.

Tom Bach, Spring Hill resident, said people in favor of supporting Golden had stated a lot of inaccuracies, and his property was excluded because he wasn’t interested in a city.

Bach said Golden’s budget would be predicated on Linn Valley, but Linn Valley and Linn Valley Lakes were two separate communities with two separate budgets.

“I’ve never known a city formulated in Kansas without some proposal of services,” he said.

Bach said he wanted to know where all the infrastructure was, and what it would cost Golden because it’s not just a city for now but forever. “Where are the property rights of those that don’t want to be in a city,” he said. “They want you to preserve their property rights at the expense of ours.”

The public hearing legally remains open because testimony ended before the public meeting notice time of 8 p.m.

The public hearing will continue next June 30 as commissioners continue to accept responses to what was stated. Written testimony can be submitted to the Miami County Clerk until 4:30 p.m., June 30. Materials can be submitted through email to [email protected] or in person at the Miami County Administration Building in Paola.

The decision making process will take place in two more meetings after the public hearing closes. The commission will hear from expert witnesses ranging from the sheriff, public works director, County appraiser and state officials on various topics and deliberate at these meetings. Roberts said the second and third meetings will take place in the commission chambers in the county administration building and will be open to the public. Those meetings have not yet been scheduled.