Sunflower Neighbors seek compromise
An attorney for the Sunflower Neighbors Group sent a letter to the city of DeSoto offering to forego a lawsuit if the city will compromise on issues regarding the annexation of Sunflower Quarry.
On Dec. 7, the city council authorized Mayor Steve Prudden to sign an annexation agreement with Hunt Midwest Inc. that makes Sunflower Quarry part of DeSoto and regulates its operation. The city must approve plans providing for the buffering of the quarry and its screening before the agreement is final.
A letter dated Dec. 19 signed by attorney William Nelson states the Sunflower Neighbors Group would "forestall a lawsuit" should the city send the annexation agreement to the DeSoto Planning Commission for its approval as a special-use permit.
Since the annexation became public in September, Sunflower Neighbors Group member Mark Crumbaker has argued the city's decision to bypass the planning commission and annex the property through an agreement curtailed due process rights of the quarry's neighbors.
The letter also requests the current annexation agreement be amended 12 ways before it is sent to the planning commission. Most of the changes call for tighter quarry operating regulations. However, one change would allow Hunt Midwest to disturb 50 acres at a time, rather than the 25-acre limit contained in the annexation agreement.
The letter notes there could be a complication should the matter be sent to the planning commission. A protest petition signed by surrounding landowners can force the city council to approve the planning commission's recommendation by a three-fourths majority. The letter lists 16 adjoining landowners who promise to waive their rights to execute a petition should the council refer the matter to the planning commission.
Crumbaker said the letter was an attempt to avert a lawsuit.
The city council met in executive session last Thursday to discuss legal matters related to the Hunt Midwest annexation.
Councilman Duke Neeland refused to say if the letter from the Sunflower Neighbors Group was discussed during the executive session.
"I don't think anyone from the council is going to comment on the Hunt Midwest annexation until we've voted on the findings of fact and conclusions of law," he said.
The council made its approval of the annexation agreement contingent on the findings of fact and conclusions of law City Attorney Patrick Reavey is preparing. Reavey has said the document will explain how and when the city decided to act as it did in the annexation.
Neeland and Reavey expect the findings of fact and conclusions of law to be ready for council action at its Jan. 4 meeting.