Sugar Creek pulls annexation from April ballot

03/24/2014 9:26 PM

03/24/2014 9:26 PM

The April 8 election seeking annexation by Sugar Creek of 2,700 acres northeast of the city has been canceled.

The city attorney said Monday it was a minor defect in the legal description of the land to be annexed that necessitated removal of the issue from the ballot. But an alderman said it was also due to opposition among the 16 full-time residents of the area.

City Attorney Robert Buckley said he went before Jackson County Circuit Judge Jack Grate seeking the removal after city officials realized that the legal description was flawed.

Buckley said the wording had been rectified for a legal notice to be published before the election, but there was a flaw in the wording that Sugar Creek submitted to the county election board for the April ballot.

“It said southwest instead of northwest of a certain property line,” Buckley said. “We decided, after deliberation, that we didn’t want to take a chance and go before the voters with an error.”

Tammy Brown, the Republican director at the Jackson County Election Board, said that because the request for a ballot change missed the deadline of six weeks before Election Day, the cost of reprinting the ballots — between $1,000 and $1,500 — would fall on Sugar Creek.

The Election Board did not contest the change, she said, because Sugar Creek has few polling places and not many ballots will have to be reprinted.

“If this had been Lee’s Summit or Independence, it would have been impossible,” Brown said. “We wouldn’t have had time to make those changes.”

Only 16 people live full time in the area that Sugar Creek proposed to annex. It would have required approval both in the annexation area and within Sugar Creek to make the change.

Sugar Creek’s Ward 2 Alderman, Stan Sagehorn, faulted city officials for the last-minute change.

“The folks out there didn’t want it,” Sagehorn said. “We had a public meeting, but they didn’t prepare the people for it. I think it was a failure on the city administration’s part for not preparing properly. Hopefully, we can get together and come back to the people at a future time.”

Buckley suggested the city might try again in August.

Frank Barnes of Salt Lake City, who with his cousins owns land in the annexation area, was pleased to hear about the removal.

“Sugar Creek recognized, to their credit, that it was becoming an unfavorable issue,” Barnes said. “I hope they’ll have enough time in the future to evaluate whether it will be a benefit or a risk.”

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