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Gardner Voters Recall Two Council Members

Gardner voters have recalled two city council members who opposed Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s plan to build an intermodal center and logistics park on the city’s outskirts.

Gardner Recall Committee had forced Tuesday’s recall election by filing a petition claiming council members Mary Peters and John Shepherd, and a third council member, had violated the Kansas Open Meetings law, which they had denied.

The recall committee said that the council members had met together in violation of state law prior to sending separate letters to Mayor David Drovetta urging changes to a city charter ordinance establishing the powers of the mayor and city council.

Peters and Shepherd’s supporters said the recall effort was more an effort pushed by Gardner business leaders angered because the council withdrew city support for the intermodal center.

In 2007, Gardner voters approved the city’s annexation of the site for the proposed center. However, in 2009, after door-to-door efforts by opponents, voters elected a city council opposed to the deal. The new council, which included the newly-elected Peters and Shepherd, withdrew the effort and de-annexed the site.

That prompted the neighboring city of Edgerton to try to annex the site.

Peters was recalled on a 1,269-882 vote. Shepherd was recalled on a 1,245-904 vote.

The intermodal was been put on hold indefinitely last month because the Kansas Department of Transportation didn’t get a special $50 million federal grant that would have boosted construction. BNSF and Allen Group, which would develop the site, said they intend to build but will wait until the economy improves.

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