Residents seek new Kansas town to protect rural lifestyle

EDGERTON, Kan. (AP) — Residents living on the outskirts of a sprawling industrial park southwest of Kansas City hope that creating their own town will protect their rural lifestyle from encroaching development.

Opposition to the massive Logistics Park Kansas City intermodal facility has been brewing for months, but it boiled over after the Edgerton City Council earlier this year agreed to rezone 700 rural acres to make way for more industrial properties south of Interstate 35, the Kansas City Star reported.

That’s bringing development closer to the rural homes residents say they bought to be surrounded by fields and pastures — not warehouses and semitrailers. They hope that incorporating their own town of will give them more say over their fates.

“Our area is too beautiful, it is too important for the environment, and it’s our right,” said Jennifer Williams, who leads the effort. “So we wanted to find out what we could do to seal up that border so it puts the decisions back into the hands of the residents.”

Williams filed the petition on behalf of roughly 300 Miami County residents to create the new city of Golden. If approved, Golden would sit just south of the Johnson County border with more than 770 residents.

Incorporation of the new city requires a unanimous vote of the Miami County Board of Commissioners. About 200 people gathered Wednesday for a four-hour hearing. Miami County Commissioner Rob Roberts could not offer a definitive timeline for further public discussions or a decision.

Subdivision developer Jerot Pearson said the new city would allow residents to protect their property rights over the long term, saying citizens now have no control over development.

Attorney Darcy Domoney of Paola said he represents about 100 residents in the surrounding area who oppose incorporation of Golden.

“They are not for or against, necessarily, warehouses or commercial development. What they’re for is individual property rights,” Domoney said. “They want those property rights to be preserved just like they are today. They do not want to have another layer of government telling them what they can do and what they can’t do on their property and with their property.”

Just five new towns have been incorporated in Kansas since 1980, according to the Kansas League of Municipalities. The last was Highlands, just outside of Hutchinson, in 2017. It’s been more common in recent years for small towns like Freeport and Frederick to seek to disband.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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