Archive for Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Developers will help pay for linking road to pike

February 28, 2007

Future developers of the area around the proposed interchange on the Kansas Turnpike south of Tonganoxie will help pay the county's costs for upgrading County Road 1 under plans discussed this week by Leavenworth County commissioners.

Commissioners met Monday with planning and zoning director Chris Dunn to discuss possible options for development in the area.

Dunn and commissioners emphasized the need to find the best way to recover the expected $9.9 million to $10.9 million in sales tax revenue that will be committed from the county for the project.

"My only concern is to recoup as much taxpayer money as possible," said Clyde Graeber, 2nd District commissioner.

The commission entertained more than a dozen different options, including rezoning the economic development area up to a mile in either direction of County Road 1, collecting user or road impact fees from developers, and using "mercenary funding options" to hire a professional adviser to better assess the situation.

Dunn noted that all action was still in the initial planning stage and that the planning and zoning department had yet to have any developers come in with specific proposals.

He also said that protecting the private property rights of county residents would be a top priority throughout the process.

Leavenworth County Counselor David Van Parys said the board's intention is to incur minimal impact to current property owners. He said current landowners would not be subject to development fees so long as the land use for the properties does not change.

In other business Monday, a motion to create a new assistant road and bridge superintendent position in the Public Works Department passed, 3-0. The level-10 position would oversee the Noxious Weeds Department in addition to other administrative duties.

According to public works representatives, a new employee is necessary to get the noxious weeds department back up and running. Its longtime director, Ed Sass, resigned earlier this month, and the department lacks direction and has little functional equipment, said Mike Spickelmier, deputy public works director.

"We feel confident that public works can receive and absorb the noxious weeds department," Spickelmier said.

In business Thursday, Feb. 22, the commission was briefed on proposed plans by Johnson County Water District 1 to build a water treatment facility in the eastern part of Leavenworth County. The facility would treat water pumped from the Missouri River on its way into Johnson County.

Van Parys told commissioners that Johnson County was acting within its legal rights in acquiring property in Leavenworth County, even though it is not in their service area.

All three commissioners agreed that Johnson County should be subject to typical planning and zoning procedures and must apply for a special-use permit to put the facility on the land in question.

"We can't forfeit rights of property owners just to enter into an interlocal agreement," 3rd District Commissioner Dean Oroke said.

Also on Thursday, the commission met with Leavenworth County Conservation District representatives to discuss funding options. The conservation district, whose office has been in business since 1948, will have to find a new place to operate if plans to separate it from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) go through.

"If NRCS and FSA pull out, we won't have any source of funding," said Susan Garrett, conservation district manager.

Although no action was taken Thursday, Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson said, "Our main concern is that the farmers and people who need these three services are taken care of."

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