Burning Tree special use permit approved, Anderson proposes new annexation policy
De Soto City Council members finally came to complete agreement on the annexation of Burning Tree Golf Course when they approved a special use permit regulating the facilities operation last Thursday.
The golf course's annexation has divided council members before and after Mayor Dave Anderson and council member Emil Urbanek were seated in May.
In a April 3-2 vote, the council approved an annexation agreement making the golf course north of the Kansas River part of De Soto. The annexation was subject to the De Soto Planning Commission's approval of a special use permit.
The planning commission approved the special use permit in late June and the council followed in July. But Anderson exercised his veto power when Tim Maniez and Linda Zindler again voted against the special use permit.
At the subsequent August planning commission meeting, the issues raised by Maniez and Zindler were addressed. Bob Hill, the golf course's owner, agreed to pave the first 75 feet of the golf course's access road off Wyandotte Street and screen its maintenance equipment storage area.
Maniez and Zindler joined their fellow commissioners in approving the special use permit last Thursday. Zindler said she was pleased the matter of potable water at the site was defined.
The golf course has access to well water but serves its guests bottled water. City planning consultant Sean Ackerman said a water source is considered public if it serves 25 people a day for more than 60 days a week. At that usage, it must be certified, he said. Certification is also required for food-related services.
After the vote, Anderson suggested the council adopt a new policy when dealing with voluntary annexations. He proposed the city no longer approve annexation agreements before the De Soto Planning Commission has had a chance to consider land-use stipulations within the agreement.
The mayor's proposed policy would be in contrast to the annexation agreements that brought Burning Tree and Hunt Midwest Mining Inc.'s Sunflower Quarry into the city. Anderson said those two annexation agreements were legal, but he argued the planning commission's involvement would make annexations a more open process.
The mayor said he has already referred an interested party with non-contiguous land "way to the east" to the planning commission.
"We're going to get those phone calls we all are," the mayor said. "I think as policy, the open process is better."
Urbanek agreed, citing the Burning Tree annexation.
"The final result would have been better if it would have gone through the planning commission," he said. "And it would have been done a lot sooner."
Only Councilman John Taylor expressed concern. The open process would alert bordering cities and the county of potential annexations, he said. Olathe and Gardner might protest the annexation with an eye toward expanding into areas reserved for De Soto.
"I know of one city that wants to annex there right now," he said.
His proposal would alert other jurisdictions to annexation, Anderson conceded. But he added, "I'm not afraid of that."
He and Reavey agreed there have been no violations in an agreement with Olathe that sets the eventual boundary between the two cities at Moonlight Road.