Developer decries sewer tie-in rules, city ‘favoritism’
David Anaya took his place at the podium before Lansing City Council with his arms full of maps, diagrams and a stack of folders containing letters from city staff: He meant business.
Anaya, who plans to develop his West Gilman Road property into a subdivision called Native Crossings, was concerned that the council was not offering him the same fee waivers that he believed has been offered to other developers. Also, Anaya had been denied permission to connect future houses to the nearby eight-inch sewer line, which meant he would have much larger expenses associated with connecting his subdivision to a sewer line.
But members of the Lansing Planning Commission and the Public Works department defended their positions, telling the council at its meeting Thursday, Jan. 4, that approving Anaya's request to put new houses on the eight-inch sewer would undo steps that had been taken to remove houses from the line, which had created back-up problems in the past. Also, there was no precedent for granting Anaya's request for fee waivers because he wanted to guarantee the waivers before finishing the platting process.
City officials said fee waivers had been made by the council in the case of the Wyndham Hill subdivision, but only after the final platting process and in exchange for construction of a trail system and other physical amenities.
Mayor Ken Bernard requested Anaya provide the Public Works Department with an engineering study showing that placing additional houses on the eight-inch sewer could be done without sacrificing the safety of the line.
Council members also debated a recommendation by Bernard to switch insurance agents to Reilly & Sons of Leavenworth. Some council members were concerned that the recommendation had come without a bid-letting process, but Bernard and City Administrator Mike Smith said there was no time for a bidding process before the renewal deadline on Feb. 1.
"We will next year go out for bid for everybody but we needed four months and we didn't have time from the time (city finance director) Will (Lundberg) came on board. I regret that," Bernard told the council. "The only reason we talked about agents is because Reilly is local, the other man told us he would have an office here last year - he still doesn't have it - and that's the only reason."
The city's insurance contract, which is around $115,000, would have maintained the same insurance carrier, St. Paul Traveler's, but been administered through Reilly & Sons. Council members were concerned that without the bidding process, the decision could be seen as arbitrary favoritism.
"I think it sends a bad perception to the public eye that we may be favoring one carrier over another carrier" said council member Billy Blackwell.
In the end, council members turned back the mayor's recommendation on a 6-2 vote with only David Trinkle Jr. and Kenneth Ketchum favoring the change. The council then unanimously voted to keep the current agent, Craig Seiler, Overland Park, for the year.
In other action, the council:
¢ Approved, 7-0, with council member Dave Trinkle abstaining, minutes from the Dec. 21 regular meeting.
¢ Approved, 8-0, appointment of Lynn Scott, general manager of Holiday Inn Express, to the Convention & Tourism Committee for the term ending on April 30, 2008.
¢ Heard a briefing from Ken Miller, Main Street Project liaison, on the current status of the construction on and around Main Street. Miller publicly thanked Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 and Lansing Police Department for their help with the transition to new traffic signals at 4-H Road and Main Street.