Parkville talks annexation in recent meeting

A discussion on annexation in Parkville came up recently due to upcoming development in the Thousand Oaks subdivision in the western end of the city.

At the Tuesday, May 15 board of aldermen meeting, the board was expected to approve a final plat for an approximately 44 acre tract within Thousand Oaks, which lies near Highway 45 and Interstate 435. The subdivision is partially within Parkville city limits and partially within unincorporated Platte County. The plat was approved, but lead to a lengthy discussion.

The jurisdictional divide has caused some headaches for residents as well as county and city staff when trying to figure out which governmental entity is responsible for road work, snow plowing, maintenance and emergency response.

Parkville director of community development Stephen Lachky said while so far the bulk of development in Thousand Oaks has happened in unincorporated Platte County, most of the upcoming phases will be within Parkville. At full build-out, Thousand Oaks is expected to have about 1,300 homes, half in Parkville and half in the county.

Alderman Bob Lock said it seemed to be a difficult issue to balance the needs of the two areas.

Director of public works Alysen Abel said street crews must travel several miles on county roads to reach city streets to plow during snow events.

“We have to drive through half of Thousand Oaks to get to a stub street that is city owned,” Abel said. “It is a detriment to us with the snow operations.”

She said they were able to work with Platte County to co-locate salt and sand stockpiles to avoid driving all the way back into Parkville to refill trucks. Previously, the city had also worked with former county public works director Greg Sager to trade off strategic areas to make plowing more efficient for both entities. Now, however, Sager was out and Abel had not had time to discuss a similar deal with new county public works director Bob Heim.

Mayor Nan Johnston said she had been concerned about the area for many years.

“It’s a terribly inefficient use of resources for both the county and the city,” Johnston said. “It was something that was done years back.”

She said placing large subdivisions just outside city limits taxed the resources of those cities. The residents paid county taxes, but used city services, she said. Citing statistics from the Kansas City home builders association, she said Platte County had the highest percentage of residential growth in unincorporated areas.

Annexation of those properties once homes were built was tricky, as the city would need to deal with each property owner individually.

“There are short term benefits,” Lachky said, noting that due to building permits issued, the budget for his department for the year was already covered. “But there are long-term concerns for public safety and road maintenance that will have to be looked at.”

Parkville chief of police Kevin Chrisman said Thousand Oaks’ development had forced re-districting of the city patrols. Additionally, police needed to travel through the county to get to city homes. Chrisman said the department had a good relationship with the Platte County Sheriff’s Office and one would often assist the other.

The larger problem, he said, was residents that came into city hall to file reports only to be told they were not citizens of Parkville and they needed to speak to the sheriff’s department in Platte City instead.

“That’s the first thing we ask — what’s your address,” Abel said. “About a third of the time when we check that address we have to turn them away and send them to the county and they are very frustrated.”

Parkville mailing addresses confused people, aldermen said.

Alderman Brian Whitley suggested putting an intern to work studying the financial pros and cons of annexation.

The annexation process is lengthy and complex, involving cooperation of those in the area to be annexed, along with votes both in that area and in the city itself. Residents of homes that have already been there for 10-15 years may not be interested in becoming city residents, since it also would mean paying city property taxes, which are higher than county property tax.

Additionally, even if the city was able to annex the areas of Thousand Oaks currently in the county, some of the original roads are nearing the end of their lifespan already.

“You can tell which roads are county and what is in the city,” Abel said. “We didn’t inspect those roads when they were put in so we don’t know what’s under those roadways.”

She worries that the city would spend a tremendous amount to reconstruct those roads to city standards.

Johnston said the board could further discuss the possibilities of annexation, and work to eliminate some of the duplication of services, at a work session this summer.