Mission, Roeland Park push for negotiations on deannexation process along shared border

Mike Kelly, mayor of Roeland Park, read aloud to the council the city’s letter to Mission dated Sept. 9 on the deannexation issue.

Mission and Roeland Park are struggling to resolve a conflict over the terms to switch ownership of seven-tenths of an acre along a shared border of the two cities. But out of an effort to value the two cities’ history of working together on other issues, the cities have agreed to revisit negotiations on those terms in the next several days.

The plot of land in question is located on the northeast corner of Johnson Drive and Roe Boulevard. Both cities agree that under a deannexation agreement, Roeland Park would take over half of the financial responsibility for the traffic signal at Johnson and Roe, and Roeland Park would pay for expenses incurred in the deannexation process.

Whether or not deannexation goes through, the city of Roeland Park has agreed to accept 25% of financial responsibility for the traffic signal because one of the poles is located in Roeland Park. Mission has been covering 100% of the traffic signal costs since it was installed in 2003.

The issue at hand: Mission is requesting an additional $125,000 as payment for the value of deannexation. Roeland Park has made a counter-offer of $10,000.

Mission city leaders said the additional $125,000 would help make up for costs incurred by Mission paying for the traffic signal over the past 16 years. City Administrator Laura Smith said $125,000 is roughly 25% of the traffic signal cost since 2003.

This is Roeland Park’s proposed annexation plan. The red line indicates the current boundary between Roeland Park to the north and Mission to the south, at Johnson Drive and Roe Boulevard. The green line is the proposed boundary change.

“From Mission’s perspective, we have understood since December 2018 that we have had a disagreement among our cities in the value of the deannexation process,” Smith said in an email. “We appreciate the Roeland Park Council’s showing of good faith to accept 25% of the signal costs going forward, and as outlined in our letter to them of 9/6/19 we believe we can move forward with the deannexation and arriving at a value that both cities feel comfortable with.”

The parcel of land was recently purchased by a developer to build a medical facility. Roeland Park sold the land to SMG Investments in July for $1.2 million. Seven-tenths of an acre on the site lies in Mission, while the remaining 2.7 acres lie in Roeland Park. As such, the developer, SMG Investments, is going through two city approval processes for the project.

Roeland Park Councilmember Jim Kelly shared his city’s perspectie with deannexation at Mission’s Sept. 4 meeting.

The city of Mission took up the issue again in June requesting the additional $125,000 in cash for de-annexation. Roeland Park made a counter-offer of $10,000.

The Mission council then met Sept. 4 to discuss the matter. Councilmember Sollie Flora said the two cities should try to negotiate out of goodwill.

“I think that really, at its heart, this is about the relationship between Mission and Roeland Park,” Flora said. “So I’d really like to see one more good faith attempt to move this toward de-annexation…but in a manner more equitable to both parties.”

Working to make site easier to develop

Since 2014, the two cities have been in an interlocal agreement for the area. While not binding, the agreement outlines the cities’ objectives for development in the area.

To make the site easier for development, Roeland Park had requested in December 2018 that the city of Mission de-annex the parcel of land.

Mission Councilmember Sollie Flora asked on Sept. 4 that Mission attempt to renegotiate with Roeland Park.

In the past week, both cities have sent letters indicating they agree to negotiate to a number between $10,000 and $125,000.

“We highly value Mission’s relationship with the City of Roeland Park – past, present and future – and are confident that we can quickly resolve this issue in a manner that reflects the parties’ positive relationship and is mutually beneficial to all,” Smith wrote to Roeland Park in a Sept. 6 letter.

In the letter, Smith stated that Kansas City Power and Light has indicated that the “original intent” was for Roeland Park to cover 25% of costs for the traffic signal.

In a response Sept. 9 to Mission, Roeland Park said it found no documentation affirming that “original intent” to share traffic signal costs, so “there is simply no legal basis for any demand upon Roeland Park for amounts paid, or to be paid, for these signals.”

Nonetheless, Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly said the letter is a gesture of good faith between the cities and dictates that Roeland Park plans to take over 25% of costs for the traffic signal. Total annual costs for the traffic signal are about $36,000, according to Mission city documents from December 2018.

“We value our relationship and are confident you will return our showing of good faith,” the Roeland Park council wrote in the letter. “Seeing as how we both agree the de-annexation is mutually beneficial, we look forward to handling this matter expeditiously.”

Roeland Park indicated in the letter that “time is of the essence” and that deannexation must be complete before the land purchaser presents to the Mission planning commission Sept. 23.