Kansas Golf centered HOA may become third class city

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Highlands homeowners association has had its share of financial stress and turmoil. The golf course community, north of Hutchinson and within commuting distance to Wichita, was originally constructed in 1972.

However, according to a recent article in Hutch News, the community consists of only 153 homes. The remainder of the lots are vacant, and there happen to be more vacant lots than homes in the Highlands.

In 2016, according to minutes from a March 29 Reno County commissioners’ meeting, the golf course was purchased by an investor named Jon Mollhagen, and a new General Manager was hired to oversee operations of the course and club.

Last fall, homeowners learned that their Sewer District would increase taxes and fees to complete a $1.1 million upgrade to their 40-year old sewer system. 

In March of  2017, a significant wildfire destroyed thousands of acres in and around Highlands, destroying two homes. Investigators deemed the cause of the fire “suspicious.” 

Now some members of the Highlands Homeowners Association are working with Reno County Commissioners to  consider the option of designating the community as a third class city. Owners say that with City status, they would be able to finance badly needed road resurfacing with bonds. Costs would be taxable to homeowners based upon assessed value of properties, a more fair and equitable approach than collecting a fixed HOA assessment from each parcel owner.


Highlands residents seek Third Class City status

By John Green Staff writer jgreen@hutchnews.com 20 hrs ago (0)
May 3, 2017

Members of the Highlands Homeowners Association have scheduled a “Town Hall” meeting in two weeks to discuss getting the golf course-centered subdivision north of Hutchinson designated a Third Class City.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m., May 16, at the Crazy Horse Clubhouse.

Reno County Commission Chairman Dan Deming announced the meeting and the effort during Tuesday’s commission meeting.

Organizers of the effort indicated a catalyst for seeking the classification is to improve the roads in the subdivision, which is in Grant County Township, making it the entity currently responsible for road maintenance.

“Our roads were built in 1972 and they obviously have kind of outlived their expected lifetime,” said Donna Zwick, one of the residents behind the effort. “We have a number of vacant lots in the Highlands, which greatly complicates the usual method of bonding for resurfacing roads.”

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The community currently relies on the road crew from a small rural Township to maintain their roads, and according to the report, the Highlands community has paved roads, while the remainder of Township roads are gravel.

So it is safe to assume that Grant County Township cannot assist with resurfacing roads in the Highlands.

With so many vacant parcels in the HOA, it is not likely that owners can finance an expensive road project, but it is even less likely that they can pull together enough cash to do the job without financing.

It will be interesting to see if this HOA can successfully incorporate as a third class city, with only a few hundred residents.

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