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Jackson annex plan foiled

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The north city limits of Jackson will change now that a judge has ruled its annexation of property along U.S. 61 and Interstate 55 in 2009 was illegal.

Judge William Syler ruled the city's annexation of public rights of way along one mile of U.S. 61 and 3.5 miles of I-55 was "illegal, invalid and void" because it was not "compact and contiguous" as required by statute and it also failed to meet other procedural requirements.

The lawsuit was brought in November by four couples and the not-for-profit organization Save Our Children's Health, Inc.

In February -- just before a citywide vote on whether or not to annex a quarry and other land in Fruitland -- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office gave plaintiffs the go-ahead to file a "quo warranto" action, meaning in effect they were suing on behalf of the state. Quo warranto normally is used to remove public officials, but not in this case.

The plaintiffs, known in a quo warranto action as relators, argued the proposed annexation could not move forward because the city acted illegally in annexing lands along the roadways to get to Fruitland property it proposed to annex.

Voters did not approve the Fruitland annexation in February and on Oct. 9 Syler ordered the city "ousted from these roadways." The U.S. 61 portion began at the intersection of Route Y and continued one mile north toward Fruitland. The I-55 portion ran from the Bent Creek subdivision area to the Fruitland interchange.

The city issued a statement Tuesday saying it stands by the 2009 annexation as a "well-intentioned attempt to secure orderly growth to the north for the citizens of Jackson," but it will not appeal the judge's ruling.

As a result of the judge's ruling, the city will immediately discontinue providing police and fire protection services to these segments of roadway, according to the city's statement. It will now be up to the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department and Missouri State Highway Patrol to respond to accidents that occur on these segments of roadway.

"The court has ruled and the city respects and accepts the ruling without further court action," city officials said in the statement. "The City of Jackson will move on and work on projects within its boundaries and will work to make our city even better."

The relators -- Al and Judy Franke, Kenneth and Virginia Leimbach, Save Our Children's Health, Inc., Thomas and Abby Petzoldt and Omer and Linda Luttrull -- were represented jointly by attorneys Thad Brady, John Lichtenegger, John Cook and Michael Ponder.

Thomas Petzoldt said he and other plaintiffs are pleased that the laws and statutes of the state were upheld by the judge. He added that Fruitland residents will continue to meet and discuss possible options for the future of their community.

Jackson City Attorney Thomas Ludwig declined to comment on the judge's ruling.

The ruling specifies each party is responsible for its own attorney fees, but Ludwig said he did not know the city's cost for representation.

Mayor Barbara Lohr did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Lichtenegger said the fact that Jackson is not appealing the judgment is an indication that they will now take a proper approach with their expansion efforts.

"You can't be running up and down interstates to grab a piece here and a piece there," he said.

The annexation actions, he added, violated statutes because the land they annexed was not a minimum of one-quarter of a mile wide, which law requires.



Pertinent address:

Jackson, MO

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I'm glad Judge Syler used common sense. The annexation was obviously an attempt to annex property that wasn't connected to the city.

-- Posted by JD420 on Tue, Oct 16, 2012, at 11:17 AM

Not much common sense about it, another good old boy ruling for the Lichtenegger interests. Hopefully this will be overturned on appeal. Jackson has been good to the Lichtenegger's and all they have done is stick to Jackson where the sun does not shine.

-- Posted by jcjayof61 on Tue, Oct 16, 2012, at 12:51 PM

Cities should not be allowed to annex remote property by annexing down the Interstate right-of-way. Cape did the same thing with the airport. The annexation of LaSalle was done along the same lines. That is not natural growth of a city. It is annexing property for the tax value to the city.

-- Posted by JD420 on Tue, Oct 16, 2012, at 1:25 PM

I agree with JD and all these illegal annexations should be reversed.

-- Posted by Beaker on Tue, Oct 16, 2012, at 3:52 PM

It would appear the Judge ruled correctly, according to the law for a change.

BTW, jcjayof61, the city said it would NOT appeal. Just so you know.

-- Posted by dchannes on Tue, Oct 16, 2012, at 7:09 PM

In regard to LaSalle, Cape Girardeau is already providing services to the area. They built a street and also have provided other services working with developers.

-- Posted by Firewall on Tue, Oct 16, 2012, at 10:08 PM

Firewall, That is true, however, I still say a city should not be allowed to just pick a piece of land a long way from their border and annex it just because it's attractive land. Look at all the land in between LaSalle and Cape that was not annexed.

-- Posted by JD420 on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 8:03 AM

The people of Jackson need to understand who there real friends are and are not.

-- Posted by jcjayof61 on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 8:31 AM

The Cape/Lasalle annexation was done the same way as the Jackson annexation so if anyone chooses to challenge that annexation, Cape would more than likely be ruled against and loose everything they have done so far.

-- Posted by mystery9 on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 8:36 AM

Voters of Jackson,

It's time for them (Lohr/Ludwig) to go.

Their "no comment" speaks volumes about their motivation and actions within and surrounding Jackson.

When Judge William Syler's verdict stated "illegal, invalid and void," I hope it woke up the Jackson voters. This is just one instance. What else do we not know?

The Jackson Mayor, her uneducated aldermen cronies and City Attorney are black eyes for Jackson.

-- Posted by lincolnlawyer on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 8:39 AM

Lincolnlawyer...you forgot to mention the incompetent Jackson "city planner".

-- Posted by Hawker on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 9:07 AM

Just curious, but does this affect any past/court pending traffic-related tickets issued in these areas by Jackson PD to be suddenly null & void, as well?

-- Posted by donknome-2 on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 10:29 AM

Lincolnlawyer......you seem to have a mindset of one who plays with Lincoln logs. We have a fine city administration. People look at moving to Jackson, not away from Jackson like they do in some other cities. Contrary to your statement, we have a first class management team in Lohr and Ludwig. Our police/fire department and city manager are not just good, they are great. Barbara Lohr eats, sleeps and breathes Jackson.

It appears to me that the individual who hides behind Lincoln logs does not speak for the majority of Jackson's residents. The Lichtenegger interests have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in the City of Jackson but seem to have no desire to reciprocate to the city and enjoy making life as miserable as possible for our leaders.

Jackson has a first class school system that others strive to emulate. The school administration with Dr. Anderson and his first class supporting staff is top notch. The best interests of the children of the Jackson R-2 district is their first priority.

Once again, when realtors are showing property in the City of Jackson, one of the things they brag about is the city leadership and the school district.

In conclusion, I would hope that the citizens of Jackson get behind their city administration as well as their school district and support both 100%. Please do not let a few uneducated individuals destroy the fine community of Jackson. There is always a place for dissention but for Lincoln Logs to sit there and name call is just irresponsible and ill refined.

-- Posted by jcjayof61 on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 2:59 PM

I agree with most comments except for jcjayof61.

The Jackson School district is very good, but our city leadership is very poor. When they do ILLEGAL annexations and their lawyer doesn't advice them differently, then we need to take a hard look at who we have as leaders. I'm in favor of annexations, but they must be legal, and our leaders need to abide by the same laws that us common people are required to do. The current leaders, including the city administrator, seem to think that they are above the law. The Voters need to know what has been going for the last 20 years. This isn't the first time this type of annexation has occurred in Jackson. {KC Hall, Cambridge Subdivision, MODOT hwy shed, Soccer Complex, etc.}

-- Posted by Jackson101 on Thu, Oct 18, 2012, at 9:16 AM

Once again, I agree with JD. The LaSalle annexation is clearly illegal because it does not meet the compact test of the compact and contiguous requirement. This holds true on the annexation down to include the Scott County airport. This also holds true with both towns annexing along highway 61 so that their boundaries merge. It's very clear that Cape has done years of land grabbing. Personally, I think all annexations should be illegal, and if deemed necessary in rare instances, require a state legislative intervention, subject to approval only when the requesting city or town demonstrate need and ability to provide services to the newly annexed area. The process for voluntary annexations (requiring voter consent on both sides), is broken. Finally, as for the leadership of Jackson, generally I think they deserve kudos. They are realistic about the size and growth potential of this area and don't exhibit alot of grandiose ideas. A very nice town for someone who enjoys living where people know each other and care about each other. Actually a very true Mayberry setting.

-- Posted by Beaker on Thu, Oct 18, 2012, at 4:10 PM

Jackson 101, if you dont like Jackson why not moce to Cape since you think it is so bad here.

-- Posted by jcjayof61 on Fri, Oct 19, 2012, at 8:29 AM

jcjay0f61, I do love Jackson, and I have no idea how you conclude that I don't. I am simply not happy with our leaders doing annexations which are against the law(illegal), and the city's attorney not advicing the ignorent differently.

Can you comprehend that??? By the way, Cape is also guilty of the same violations, but so far no one has tried to correct their mistakes, but that doesn't make them legal!!!! The moral character of our communities is at stake here, and you couldn't care less. Some people, including me, however feel it a moral obligation to speak against this behavior. What are we teaching our younger generation, telling them that it is OK to break the law if you can get by with it?? I think NOT!

-- Posted by Jackson101 on Mon, Oct 22, 2012, at 10:24 AM

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