Nearly 300 residents in northern Miami County are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to protecting their rural property from future industrial growth and development.
The group filed a petition Friday, April 9, in the Miami County Clerk’s Office to incorporate a new third class city named “Golden.”
The city would encompass about nine square miles north of Hillsdale Lake, and the population would be 776, according to the petition’s documents.
Jennifer Williams, who lives along Moonlight Road within the proposed city boundaries, filed the petition Friday after working with others during the past few weeks collecting more than 275 signatures from residents within the proposed boundary lines who support the plan.
Williams only needed 50 signatures per state statute, but she said she wanted to illustrate the support there is for the idea, and she expects the signatures to eventually surpass 300.
Williams said the name of the proposed city is a reference to the Golden Criteria, which was established in the 1978 Kansas Supreme Court case Golden vs. City of Overland Park. The criteria is often used by planning commissioners, and it focuses on the impact of a potential zoning change or conditional use on the character of the neighborhood, as well as the relative gain to the community compared to the potential detrimental impact to neighboring properties.
It also fits, she said, because of the Golden Rule.
“It’s about treating people fairly,” she said.
Williams and her neighbors are concerned because of what is happening just north of the county line, where NorthPoint Development is working with the city of Edgerton to annex land for proposed industrial warehouses.
An online petition to stop the NorthPoint development and Edgerton rezoning was posted to www.change.org, and a website called www.protectruraljoco.com has been established to fight the proposed development.
“We don’t want to wait until they infiltrate the Miami County border and it’s too late for us,” Williams said.
Williams said the fear is that their property or neighboring properties will be annexed by an outside city, and all rezoning issues will then by handled by that city’s planning commission.
“We don’t have due process,” Williams said. “We have no representation.”
If the city of Golden were to be incorporated, Williams said they would retain local control over things like annexation and protection of the Hillsdale Watershed.
Maintaining a rural atmosphere is also a top priority for the residents who signed the petition, according to the documents.
“The residents of the proposed City of Golden, Kansas want to preserve their large lot residential and agriculture-friendly way of life while accommodating appropriate new development,” the petition states. “As dense industrial growth continues to the immediate north of the proposed city, residents observe that heavy industrial truck traffic and the loss of residential character are forcing longtime residents to move away. Furthermore, the haphazard expansion of industrial development into areas that lack a local planning commission is wreaking havoc with property values.”
The petition states that forming a city would be in the best interest of residents moving forward.
“The residents of the proposed city know that massive growth is coming to northern Miami County over the next 10 years and want to be sure they can adequately plan for it while preserving, where appropriate, existing residences and agricultural/conservation areas,” the petition states. “To do this requires extensive planning and coordination with our rural water district and fire district partners. Such coordination is most easily accomplished by a city. Over time, the residents of the proposed city expect to see an increase in crime and will require policing coverage in excess of what the Miami County Sheriff generally provides to all rural areas. This is also best addressed by forming a city.”
Officials at the Miami County Clerk’s Office said the next step is for them to verify the signatures. The petition then has to be published before it is sent to the Miami County Commission.
Commission Chair Rob Roberts said Monday, April 12, that he and his fellow commissioners have just begun to review the petition and the state statutes that pertain to it. The petition also is being reviewed by Miami County Counselor Sheila Schultz, he said.
“I can understand the frustration that some of them have,” Roberts said, adding that he expects to hear from all parties during a public hearing as the process moves forward.
Things like road maintenance and police and fire protection are just some of the questions that have to be addressed, Roberts said.
Williams said the best part about the proposal is that it would put landowners in control of their own future.
“It’s giving the residents a voice,” she said.