A petition to establish the city of Golden in northern Miami County was filed on April 9 — setting in motion a chain of events that had yet to be resolved at year’s end.
Jennifer Williams, who lives along Moonlight Road within the proposed city boundaries, filed the petition after working with others to collect more than 275 signatures from residents within the proposed boundary lines who supported the plan.
The Golden supporters’ focus was just north of the county line where they said NorthPoint Development is working with the city of Edgerton to annex and rezone land for proposed industrial warehouses that serve the Logistics Park Kansas City intermodal facility. They were concerned about industrial development spilling into Miami County on land currently zoned for rural residential and agriculture use.
For Williams and her supporters the solution to combat industrial sprawl was clear — establish a new 9-square-mile third class city named Golden north of Hillsdale Lake in Miami County. The city would have a population of 776.
The petition was certified by the Miami County Clerk’s Office, and a hearing took place June 23 in Paola to take public comments. Forty-five people spoke for and against the proposed city.
Williams told Miami County commissioners at the public hearing incorporation of Golden would give residents more control over potential rezoning and help preserve their rural lifestyle against the expansion of the intermodal facility at Miami County’s doorstep.
More than 230 people, many wearing “We are Golden” T-shirts, turned Paola Middle School auditorium into a sea of bright yellow for the duration of the nearly five-hour hearing.
While nearly 40 of the 45 speakers supported the proposed city of Golden, some landowners were not in that camp.
Darcy Domoney, a Paola attorney who represented approximately 110 of those landowners, said the incorporation would set a dangerous precedent.
“Over 100 taxpayers have signed to oppose the city,” Domoney told commissioners. “From our view, there is no coherent business plan that exists for this city. There’s one goal and that’s very clear, and that’s to stop the logistics park and commercial development in this area of northern Miami County.”
Domoney said the property owners he represents account for about 3,000 of the approximately 5,400 acres within the proposed city boundaries of Golden and another 1,300 acres adjacent to or near the proposed city.
“They’re not for or against necessarily warehouses or commercial development,” he said. “What they’re for is individual property rights. They want those property rights to be preserved just like they are today.”
After the hearing, the County Commission scheduled presentations from numerous experts on a number of topics related to the proposed incorporation. They also received volumes of correspondence, both for and against the proposed city, over the course of several months.
County commissioners voted 3-1 against incorporation of the proposed city of Golden at its Oct. 13 meeting. Approval of the incorporation would have required a unanimous vote by county commissioners.
The commissioners made their decision as a four-member panel. Commissioner Danny Gallagher recused himself because of a potential conflict of interest, citing relationships with people who have publicly stated their position on the incorporation.
Golden supporters Williams and Charlie Koch appealed the county’s decision. Doug Patterson, with The Property Law Firm in Overland Park, filed their appeal Nov. 12 in Miami County District Court.
“Golden is a way to stop Edgerton’s crawl south and put the power to develop that land back into the hands of not only the people who live in the proposed boundaries of Golden but also the county,” Koch said at the June 23 hearing. “County zoning will not protect us. You all are very aware that once Edgerton annexes, you don’t have anything to say about the zoning. They can change the zoning at will, and put whatever they like in.”
County Counselor Shelley Woodard filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ appeal on Nov. 15. Patterson filed a response on Dec. 15, asking the court to deny the county’s motion to dismiss the appeal.
The county’s motion to dismiss the Golden appeal will be taken up this month in Miami County District Court. A Zoom hearing has been scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14.