Archive for Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Land dispute emerges over development

September 26, 2001

A dispute between several Leavenworth County residents and the Falcon Lakes housing development could wind up being settled in Leavenworth County District Court.

Falcon Lakes is a 450 to 500 home residential development located along Kansas Highway 7, just north of Basehor.

The development, technically outside of the city limits, was annexed by the City Council in March.

During a Basehor City Council work session Monday, Sept. 24, the City Council and representatives from Falcon Lakes discussed the negotiations, which have apparently stalled.

The dispute stems from property owners near Falcon Lakes that, to this point, have not granted land easements to the development.

The land needed among the seven residents, approximately two-and-half acres, would be used for the construction of a force main that would tie into the Basehor Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Although the developers and the City Council would prefer not to go through litigation, a condemnation process could be used to obtain the land needed.

Basehor City Attorney John Thompson said in a condemnation process the land would have to be appraised by a committee appointed by the court.

"If we do file litigation, then we have to get the appraisers involved," Thompson said. "We could be looking at $10,000 in fees for appraisals."

Thompson said the two sides hope to avoid going to court because of time constraints as well as cost.

"It has always been the best option to settle these matters through an agreement because litigation gets costly," Thompson said.

Falcon Lakes engineer Ed Schlagel said the developers are trying to reach a settlement with the residents involved to assure all parties are satisfied.

"We are continually trying to meet with everybody to get it resolved," he said.

Falcon Lakes owner Rustom Ferzandi said he was eager to resolve the situation.

"We have 40 lots coming on-line and we need to go on with this," Ferzandi said.

"We are not getting hurt; all of us are getting hurt," he added.

The two sides eventually came to an agreement, which allows the developers to decide on a figure they would pay for the easements. The number will be used for negotiations with the property owners.

If the negotiations fail, city officials said they would proceed with a condemnation process for the land needed. City Council member Joe Odle along with several other council members, said he was not in favor of litigation to settle the issue for the land easements.

"I, as a member of the City Council, am not going to spend city money on this," Odle said.

Also discussed by the City Council during the work session was a proposed city revitalization program that would entail all properties in the city, except the wastewater treatment facility.

The revitalization program is designed to give property owners that make improvements to their home a tax abatement on the improvements.

Similar programs exist in Bonner Springs and Tonganoxie.

During the work session, the council tried to determine the final details of the program, including what areas of the city to include in the revitalization area.

Under Kansas legislation, an entire county can be included in a revitalization program but not an entire city.

The council decided to include all areas of the city except for the wastewater treatment facility because the plant was a new facility and would not need improvements.

The council also set a provision that no new construction in subdivisions be allowed in the revitalization area.

To implement the program, the city must receive approval from the Basehor-Linwood School District, the Leavenworth County Commission, Fairmount Township Fire Department and the Basehor Community Library since the program would affect the funding of those organizations, city officials said.

Basehor Mayor Bill Hooker said he would be in contact with those organizations in the coming weeks for input on the program.

To approve the program, a public hearing would have to be scheduled, city officials said.

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