Archive for Thursday, June 22, 2006

Developers: New district should help lure grocery

June 22, 2006

Basehor soon may be more attractive to retail businesses because of a Transportation Development District sales tax ordinance and development agreement for Wolf Creek Junction that city council members approved Monday.

The 41 acres of commercial property at the northeast corner of 155th Street and U.S. Highway 24-40 is being developed by partners Ed McIntosh and John Bell of Benchmark Enterprises. It already is home to Casey's General Store. McIntosh said his main goal now that the transportation district has been approved is to attract a grocery store to the property.

McIntosh and Bell heard about transportation development districts from Lynn McClure, executive director of Leavenworth County Development Corporation. With the help of consultant Christine Bushyhead from the firm White, Goss, Bowers, March, Schulte and Weisenfels, McIntosh spoke with the council on several occasions about the transportation development district and how it works.

The developer is responsible for developing and financing certain projects such as paving, curbs, landscaping and natural gas lines that provide transportation improvements in the district. The developer is then reimbursed through a 0.75 of 1 percent sales tax imposed on businesses that settle on the property.

"It (transportation development district) is an incentive tool that cities can use to attract retail and industrial businesses," McIntosh said. "It is a tool for the developer to use with the help of the city with less cost for infrastructure. We (developers) finance the project and get paid back through additional sales tax."

While McIntosh and Bell are the first to make use of a district, other developers can put together one for their properties as well.

On Monday, city attorney John Thompson asked McIntosh and Bushyhead to address a few issues that council members had with the district, such as the city's involvement and responsibilities.

Bushyhead assured council members that the city had several layers of protection. She explained that developers using a transportation development district have to go through the same city procedures as every other developer. The second layer of protection is that all pay requests by developers must be approved by the city.

"The second layer is certification of costs," Bushyhead said. "We have to provide for you itemized invoices of what we've spent. We really believe this extra money you have for consultants and your independent ability to hire those people to review those numbers is protection for you."

The transportation development district also uses a pay-as-you-go system and the city has the final say before bonds are issued.

"I think we have a strong agreement here and I strongly recommend you pass it," Bushyhead said.

Even with these layers of protection some council members were still hesitant to commit to the district.

"There are still some questions that need to be answered," council president John Bonee said.

On a 3-2 vote, the council approved the transportation development district. Mayor Chris Garcia voted in favor of the district in order to break a 2-2 tie. Iris Dysart and Bonee were opposed. Council member Terry Thomas was not in attendance.

McIntosh said Bushyhead's firm has experience with such an agreement because they recently put together a district for Roeland Park, but he thinks council members are wary of such an agreement because it has never been done before in Basehor.

"It is relatively new," McIntosh said. "It is still the developers' burden, but at least we know we are going to get our investment back. As long as we don't abuse it, it will work and be around a long time."

In other action Monday night, the council:

  • Approved, 4-0, the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan.
  • Approved, 4-0, scheduling of a training session for the city council, planning commission and board of zoning appeals at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 27. The session will review duties of the members of these groups.
  • Agreed, 3-1, with council member Keith Sifford opposed, to table a decision on authorizing funds for a Leavenworth Road drainage design survey.
  • Approved, 4-0, an agreement with Leavenworth County for resurfacing of Hollingsworth Road.
  • Agreed, 4-0, to table an interlocal agreement among the city, Jeffrey Theno and Basehor Athletic Association that would provide for treatment of wastewater. Action on the agreement won't be considered until accurate measurements of wastewater produced at peak times at Field of Dreams are available and other corrections to the document are made.
  • Approved, 3-1, with Sifford opposed, to provide annual funding of $5,579 to Leavenworth County Development Corporation.
  • Approved, 3-0, with Bonee abstaining, to schedule a public hearing for Falcon Lakes assessments for 7 p.m. Monday, July 3. Later in the meeting, council members changed the public to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 6.
  • Approved, 4-0, to change zoning from R-O (suburban residential) to R-1 (single-family residential) and preliminary plat for Silver Springs subdivision for property at 15977 Leavenworth Road.
  • Approved, 4-0, to change zoning from R-O (suburban residential) to CP-2 (general business) on property at 1104 N. 150th St., which is part of the Wolf Creek Junction development.
  • Approved, 3-2, with Bonee and Dysart opposed, and Garcia breaking the 2-2 tie for the final plat for Fox Ridge of Prairie Gardens.
  • Agreed, 4-0, to amend ordinance 399, section 5, court costs. The state has assessed an additional $10 fee for Kansas Law Enforcement Training.
  • Approved, 4-0, a resolution authorizing the city to file an application with Kansas Department of Health and Environment for state revolving loan funds.
  • Heard from Garcia about a monthly citizen forum that he plans to kick off soon. The mayor said he hasn't decided yet when his first forum will be scheduled.
  • Heard from Sifford about lowering the speed limit on North 155th Street and moving the city limit sign. Both issues were addressed by City Administrator Carl Slaugh and will be discussed further at the council's next work session agenda.
  • Met in executive session to discuss matters of attorney-client privilege and personnel.

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