KS Supreme Court docket Holds Annexation Settlement Invalid

This put up was authored by Amy Lavine, Esq.

The Kansas Supreme Court docket held in July {that a} written settlement between two cities to limit their future annexations was unenforceable.

The settlement at situation was executed in 2006 between the Metropolis of Olathe and the Metropolis of Spring Hill, and it delineated the boundary for every metropolis’s annexation authority for the world situated between the 2 cities; the Metropolis of Olathe agreed to not annex property south of the boundary line, the Metropolis of Spring Hill agreed to not annex property north of the road, and each cities reserved their rights to annex properties inside their respective boundary strains. The settlement didn’t embrace any expiration date and as an alternative said that it might stay in impact till it was terminated by the mutual consent of each cities. In 2021, the Metropolis of Spring Hill notified the Metropolis of Olathe that it supposed to annex property north of the boundary line, in contravention to the settlement. This prompted the Metropolis of Olathe to start litigation to implement the settlement.

Upon overview, the Kansas Supreme Court docket concluded that the settlement was unenforceable as a governmental motion that would not bind subsequent metropolis councils, and it declined to grant the Metropolis of Olathe’s request for injunctive reduction. The courtroom defined that its choice was based mostly on the “longstanding widespread regulation rule that an elected governing physique could not use its legislative energy to constrain future governing our bodies to observe normal coverage choices.” Because the courtroom defined:

The essence of this rule lies within the elementary philosophy of American democracy. Throughout the constraints of constitutionally protected rights, it’s the will of the citizens that determines coverage choices. If an elected governing physique is allowed to bind future our bodies to a specific plan of action, the impact is to silence the desire of voters sooner or later…. To carry in any other case would invite elected governing our bodies to make their insurance policies everlasting, defeating the flexibility of future voters to set their very own programs, resulting in archaic laws, stagnation, and an lack of ability to answer modified circumstances.

Whereas this rule prevents “governmental” or “proprietary” agreements from binding future governing our bodies, it permits legislatures to undertake sure sorts of “administrative” and “proprietary” obligations. The courtroom defined that governmental and legislative agreements are likely to relate to “affairs of political jurisdiction and selling the general public welfare at giant. Such powers contain policymaking, and such a perform can’t be contracted away….” As related to the cities’ annexation settlement, the courtroom famous that “the event, introduction, or enchancment of companies are, by and enormous, thought of governmental, however the routine upkeep of the ensuing companies is mostly deemed proprietary.” The settlement, the courtroom discovered, mirrored “quintessential coverage concerns” concerning the event, introduction, and enchancment of companies, and it was due to this fact clearly governmental and couldn’t be thought of a legitimate contract with any binding impact on future elected councils. It was not an settlement to offer companies that is likely to be thought of “administrative,” the courtroom stated, since “the Settlement doesn’t set up who would offer companies, what these companies can be, when these companies can be offered, or even when these companies can be offered.”

The Metropolis of Olathe argued that the settlement was however licensed below a state statute referring to annexation contracts. Because the courtroom identified, nonetheless, the statute explicitly solely allowed contracts which are licensed by regulation, and “a contract that’s of open-ended length that seeks to restrain the coverage choices of future municipal governments is, as we have now simply noticed, not licensed by regulation.” For related causes, the courtroom additionally dismissed the Metropolis of Olathe’s rivalry that the settlement was licensed by its home-rule powers. To carry in any other case, the courtroom emphasised, would undermine your entire idea of house rule, since “it might take away from elected municipal governments the flexibility to make choices and act based on the desire of the voters if prior governments had dedicated them to coverage programs .”

Metropolis of Olathe v. Metropolis of Spring Hill, 512 P.3d 723 (Can 7/1/22).