by Alan McArthur
A legal challenge to an annexation effort looms on the horizon at Weston.
The city of Weston held a public hearing on Monday about the proposed annexation of more than seven miles of highway right-of-way.
The proposal is a voluntary annexation by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission (MHTC) of the right-of-way into the city limits of Weston.
The annexation would extend the city limits of Weston along Highway 273 to the north from near Brills Creek to the intersection of Bluff Road, about 1.7 miles. The limits would extend along H Highway from near Pleasant View Drive to Countryside Road, about 1.5 miles. The city limits would extend along JJ Highway from near Wells Branch Creek to the intersection of 45 and 273 Highways, about 1.5 miles. It would then extend south along 45 Highway to Bee Creek, about 1.2 miles. The limits would also travel from the intersection of 45 and 273 Highways along 273 Highway to 164th Street past Bee Creek, about 1.5 miles.
Currently, the Weston Bend State Park is annexed into Weston and the city's limits include the property on the southwest corner of the intersection of 45 and 273 Highways, but not the actual highways. The park extends to the south along 45 Highway to Bee Creek. Also on the north side of the city, property owned by Earl B. Benner Jr. is annexed into the city along 45 Highway, however the roadway is not in the city.
During the public hearing, James W. Farley, attorney, spoke in opposition of the proposed annexation. Farley was representing John Pepper, Inc. and the Diane M. Pepper Trust, which owns property around the intersection of 45 and 273 Highways.
In a letter to the board, Farley said that Missouri statute says a city may annex areas that are “contiguous and compact” to current city limits. Farley said that since the proposal extends several miles outside of Weston, it does not meet the requirements.
Farley also said that a voluntary annexation proposal must be signed by the owners of the property to be annexed. Farley then states, “MHTC holds only a right-of-way over the land on which these highways are located. It has no title to the land on which the highways are located.”
“MHTC is without authority to request an annexation and the city has no authority to act upon such a request.”
At the end of the letter Farley writes, “Our clients request that you will recognize that the proposed annexation is not authorized by law and not pass the ordinance in question. However, should that occur we wish to advise you that our clients will take all necessary legal action to nullify the ordinance.”
After a public hearing, the city must wait 14 days before being able to vote on an ordinance discussed, according to Kim Kirby, city clerk.
The next scheduled meeting for the board is on Monday, Dec. 8.
The annexation would allow property owners along the annexed highway right-of-ways to be annexed.
The city limits of Tracy are 3.7 miles from the intersection of 45 and 273 Highways; the annexation would place the limits of Weston 2.2 miles from Tracy.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Weston had a total land area of 1.6 miles and a population of 1,631.