Jim Seeman lives in the farmhouse he grew up in near Basehor, the place where his parents moved in 1947, and he doesn’t like the idea of being swallowed by sprawling urban development.


He also doesn’t like the idea that people he can’t vote for could someday make him a city resident.


Seeman testified Wednesday in a House committee where he urged lawmakers to provide more stringent protection for county property owners. He favors legislation that would remove unilateral annexation from the toolbox of cities looking to expand their boundaries.


"My home is my roots," Seeman said. "A lot of people look at a dwelling as just simply a house. If they can make money on it and go someplace else, that's fine. But I don't plan to go anywhere."


The consternation stems from an effort by Basehor officials to extend zoning and permit authority to the area surrounding the city.


Amanda Stanley, general counsel for the League of Kansas Municipalities, said Basehor entered an agreement with Leavenworth County for zoning around the city, a common practice. After concerns were raised in public hearings, the city decided not to proceed.


"The irony of this is the whole process worked," Stanley said.


The bill being considered by the committee is extremely broad with far-reaching consequences, Stanley said. A homeowner completely surrounded by a city and receiving city services could opt out of annexation, creating collateral problems.


Real estate agents would have to make clear which houses are outside city limits, Stanley said, so prospective buyers would know which neighbors have to abide by noise, animal and fireworks ordinances. The situation also could complicate things for law enforcement and emergency workers.


When cities annex an area, they typically try to reach a consent agreement. To unilaterally annex, the city has to consider 16 separate factors.


"Unilateral annexation is being responsibly used as cities expand," Stanley said. "It is a complicated process that is not entered lightly. Even if this power is eliminated, growth will continue to naturally occur in the areas adjoining cities. This will result in confusion and duplication of services between the city and the county."


City officials from across the state provided testimony in opposition of the proposed legislation, sounding alarms about the cost of city-funded services and development opportunities.


Another Leavenworth County resident, Diance Strick, provided a petition signed by 66 rural neighbors who don’t want to be part of the city of Basehor.


"As taxpayers, we should have the right to vote as to what happens to our property," Strick said.


Seeman said he never met a farmer who would be glad to be annexed by the city. Water, air and endangered species are protected by federal and state laws, he said, but not farmland.


"Too much farmland is being destroyed and gobbled up and gone to want and waste, strictly for the idea of development," Seeman said.