Shawnee County court strikes down Heartland Park petition


TOPEKA (KSNT) – Topeka voters won’t get to vote on the City of Topeka buying the Heartland Park race track.

The decision of a Shawnee County District court judge was made public around 4 p.m. Wednesday. Judge Larry Hendricks in his ruling said essentially, the petition was well-intentioned but technically flawed so it is invalid.

Hendricks agreed with the City’s argument an initiative petition wasn’t appropriate to repeal an executive ordinance to make the purchase saying it “dooms the Imming petition.”

At the heart of this issue, more than 4,000 Topeka residents who signed their names to a petition demanding a public vote on the City’s decision to purchase the track and issue more than $5 million in star bonds to improve the surrounding area.

The City had argued the petition is flawed, asked voters to approve something they don’t have the right to veto and most importantly argued because of that confusion they could not put it to a vote with a judge saying it was legal.

“The City of Topeka respects the judicial process, and the decision of Judge Hendricks,”  City Manager Jim Colson said Wednesday.  “We plan to take this issue back to the Governing Body for further discussion at the next scheduled meeting.”

In making his decision, Hendricks found that “in this case, the substance of the Imming Petition, which extends beyond the scope contemplated by the legislature for initiative petitions must fail.”

Petition organizer Chris Imming said he was “extremely disappointed” in the ruling and did not say whether he is considering an appeal.




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