City approves golf course annexation
A lame-duck De Soto City Council split along familiar lines last Thursday when it approved the city's first annexation north of the Kansas River.
The decision will make the soon-to-be-open 54-acre, nine-hole golf course part of the city, pending the De Soto Planning Commission's approval of an annexation agreement.
Council members Duke Neeland, Brad Seaman and John Taylor voted in favor of the annexation, while Tim Maniez and Linda Zindler opposed it.
The golf course's developer, Bob Hill, first brought the annexation request to the council last month. It was tabled so that the city's comprehensive land-use plan could be updated to include the area north of the river and to address questions about the city's maintenance responsibilities for the Wyandotte Street bridge, should it expand across the river.
Council members also wanted to discuss the annexation with Bonner Springs, which also has designs on Leavenworth County territory along the river.
"I was surprised when I saw it on the agenda," Zindler told her fellow council members. "I thought we agreed to address the comprehensive plan and talk with Bonner Springs and Leavenworth County."
In response, Neeland said he didn't realize it would take months to update the comprehensive plan when he voted to table the request. He was ready to go forward because a golf course was, in the words of City Engineer Mike Brungardt, "a darn good land use for a flood plain."
The annexation would not require the city to help maintain the Kansas River bridge, City Attorney Patrick Reavey said.
Documents establish the responsibility of Johnson and Leavenworth counties to maintain the bridge. Johnson County legal and public works officials have not found anything requiring De Soto to share in that responsibility, despite an active search for such records, Reavey said.
"Johnson and Leavenworth counties have the responsibility to maintain the bridge because they took federal money to build it," he said. "I think they might come to you in the future to ask out of a fairness standpoint that De Soto take some of that responsibility."
Reavey said he also talked with Bonner Springs officials. Those officials said they would contact De Soto about future expansion into Leavenworth County.
Seaman retained doubts even after the updates from city staffers and asked Hill why he was in a rush to be annexed.
The developer replied that Leavenworth County had not issued a permit for the golf course's septic tank and was demanding he build a mound system. Hill and Brungardt agreed a lateral septic system, which the developer said could be installed within days, was safe and adequate for the site.
With that, Seaman overcame his reservations and cast the deciding vote for the annexation.
The planning commission must still approve the annexation agreement, but the golf course can open contingent to that action once it receives a permit for its septic system.
After the meeting, Zindler said her questions have not been addressed.
"I thought we were going to address the comprehensive plan," she said. "I thought we were going to talk to Bonner Springs and Leavenworth County. I hadn't seen their response.
"I just felt I was being pressured, and I felt uncomfortable with making a decision at this time."
The council also made the annexation of Hunt Midwest Mining Inc.'s quarry south of 95th official Thursday when it approved plans to reclaim and buffer the quarry site. The annexation agreement the council approved late last November was contingent on those two agreements.
The quarry annexation was approved by the same 3-2 vote that made the golf course part of De Soto.
Zindler and Maniez said they would vote against the buffering and reclamation agreements to stay consistent with their past opposition to the annexation, but both expressed appreciation for the work Brungardt and other city employees put into improving the city's position in the two plans.