Overlay district put on hold
The DeSoto City Council put the creation of an overlay district between the city and Johnson County on hold Thursday night after some council members had concern over terms outlined in the agreement.
A joint planning agreement was made between the city and the county in 1998 after DeSoto annexed a large portion of county land, including a section along the K-10 Corridor. At the time of the annexation, county officials mandated a joint zoning review board be established to regulate new development within the annexed portions of the corridor.
The goal of the joint board was to form an overlay district.
The final step in that direction would be the approval of an intra-local agreement, giving the city and the county equal say in what can and cannot be built along certain portions of the corridor.
The overlay district would include just over six square miles, bordered on the east by Cedar Creek Road, on the west by Sunflower Road, on the north by the south side of 91st Street and on the south by 103rd Street. The overlay district would include 3.6 square miles on the city side and 2.6 square miles on the county side.
The Johnson County Board of Commissioners approved the agreement earlier Thursday. Commissioner Johnna Lingle passed that news along to the city council Thursday night.
DeSoto City Council member Tim Maniez told Lingle he had a problem with the arbitration section of the final agreement.
According to overlay district regulations, any disagreement between the city and the county would be decided by an independent arbitrator.
"I think if (the disputed area) is in DeSoto, DeSoto should get the final say. If it's in Johnson County, then Johnson County should get the final say as opposed to a third person," Maniez said.
Dave Peel, a Johnson County planner, told Maniez the attorneys who put the final agreement together wanted to ensure some form of closure if the agreement cannot be worked out. Peel said he didn't think an arbitrator would be necessary to settle disputes.
"I doubt there will be a dispute that gets that far," Peel said.
Maniez said he did not want to take that chance.
"I'm not quite willing to turn that over to a third party in hopes it will be fair and non-biased," he said. "I was elected to look out for this city. The people who elected us expect us to have some final say in what happens in our city."
Maniez asked Lingle if she believed he was out of line. The commissioner responded that she and Maniez thought a lot alike, but the agreement was already approved, as is, by the county. Lingle reminded Maniez the agreement was only for four years.
"If we have a problem in the future, we can change it then," she said.
Council president Duke Neeland said he would like to have another issue between the county and city decided before formalizing the overlay district.
When the city annexed the county land a year and a half ago, the county retained its fire protection authority. Residents now living in the city of DeSoto remain in the county's Fire District No. 3. City Council members have petitioned the county to detach the land from the district and allow the city to provide its fire protection. A decision on the matter is expected from the county within the next few weeks.
Because any new development requires the approval of a fire marshal, Neeland said he was not comfortable voting on the overlay district until he knew what the county's decision would be.
"Who will be the fire marshal? Will Fire District No. 3 be making these decisions for us?" Neeland asked. "I think we should table this until we find out about the fire district.
Mayor Steve Prudden said he understood the council members' concerns, but he hoped the issue would not be a deal breaker.
"I see what you're saying there, but I see a lot of hard working going down the drain," he said.
Lingle told Neeland that she was not free to discuss the fire district situation.
"The fire department cannot legally be part of any other consideration by me," she said. "I cannot legally attach those two issues together."
Council member Linda Zindler, a member of the committee that helped develop the overlay district guidelines, said any concerns over those issues should have been brought up earlier.
"This will do nothing but strengthen what developers can expect from us," she said. "It's a win-win situation with DeSoto benefiting the most."
Zindler made a motion to approve the district for a period of four years. The motion died when it was not seconded by any of her fellow council members.