Kansas Supreme Court declines to hear Heartland Park case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has refused to consider the validity of a petition that sought a public vote on a city plan to purchase the struggling Heartland Park motorsports complex.

Without providing a reason for its decision, the court issued an order Wednesday denying Topeka resident Chris Imming’s petition seeking a review of a Kansas Court of Appeals decision in the case, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Topeka City Council members approved a plan last year to reissue sales tax revenue, or STAR, bonds with an estimated value between $4.8 million and $5.5 million to buy the track. The proposal called for the city to pay off $10.4 million in STAR bonds the state issued for 20 years in 2006 to finance improvements at Heartland Park.

Soon after the council’s August 2014 vote, opponents led by Imming gathered enough signatures in a petition drive to put the proposed purchase up for a vote.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Larry Hendricks ruled in November that the petition was invalid because under Kansas law such petitions can’t be filed against administrative ordinances.

Though it said the decision removed a barrier to the city’s purchase of the motorsports facility, which hosts the high-profile National Hot Rod Association Kansas Nationals each year, the city’s governing body decided to wait until an appeals court ruled on the petition.

In March, the Kansas Court of Appeals said Imming’s petition came in the wrong format to challenge the issuance of STAR bonds.

But city leaders decided to delay purchasing the track until after the April elections so a newly seated city council could discuss the issue and the public had a chance to weigh in.

Two City Council members who supported the plan were ousted and two other members didn’t seek re-election. In May, the new council voted 6-4 against purchasing the complex or expanding a state bond district.

Despite that, attorneys representing Imming, the city and Heartland Park owner Jayhawk Racing continued trying to get the state Supreme Court to hear the case, focusing on whether the petition drive was valid.

They argued that a Supreme Court review of the appeals court ruling would set precedent regarding the power of the city manager and better define administrative and legislative ordinances.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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