County, WaterOne continue talks on treatment plant near Lansing
Leavenworth County and Lansing city officials met behind closed doors last week with representatives of Water District No. 1 of Johnson County, the utility that has plans to build a water treatment facility in Wyandotte County and store leftover sediment from water drawn from the Missouri River in a residual monofill in Leavenworth County.
On Monday in open session, County Counselor David Van Parys told county commissioners the meeting focused on two primary points of discussion.
First was about the potential for providing an emergency water supply to the county.
Van Parys said that WaterOne was not opposed to entering into an interlocal agreement "on a true emergency basis to discuss how to supply water to Leavenworth County."
According to WaterOne general manager Mike Armstrong, the utility, which supplies approximately 400,000 Johnson County residents with drinking water, already has emergency interconnects with the Board of Public Utilities' and other municipalities' pipelines, similar to the current connections that exist between BPU and Lan-Del Water District in Lansing, as well as Rural Water District No. 1 in Basehor.
"We want to make sure that as a public entity, we're working with other public utilities," Armstrong said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Van Parys also made clear that WaterOne wanted to avoid stepping on any toes of the county's water utilities.
"They have no intention to retail wholesale water in Leavenworth County," he assured the commission.
The second part of the meeting on June 7 involved the potential application of local land-use regulation to WaterOne.
The 300 acres to be used for the planned monofill, southwest of Kansas Highway 5 between the Archer Daniels Midland grain elevator and Lakeside Speedway, is currently zoned heavy industrial, or I-3.
WaterOne's position is that as a public utility relocating within the jurisdiction of another public utility, it is not subject to local zoning laws. But the county sees it differently.
Van Parys said he didn't believe WaterOne qualified for immunity from zoning rules and would need to go through the regular county land use regulations specifically, seeking an amendment to zoning requirements or a special use permit.
Armstrong stated in a March 1 meeting with the county commission that because of the temporary nature of a special use permit, that option would not be advantageous for a "long-lasting relationship" with WaterOne.
He said Tuesday that WaterOne would be willing "to participate in the zoning amendment process but would not initiate it."
Mike Gurnee, with the Leavenworth County Planning and Zoning Department said any addition of water treatment to the list of uses permitted under an I-3 zone "would require a public hearing before the planning commission."
"(Discussions) will all be public, and it will all be open," said Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson, who represented the board at the June 7 meeting with WaterOne.
Lansing officials will be involved in further talks with WaterOne as well, because the land to be used for the monofill falls within the city's urban growth management area.
"It's just a matter of courtesy between Lansing and (WaterOne)," Van Parys said, "And to allow any input the city has."
Despite a lengthy negotiation process, Armstrong said, "I'm still optimistic that we'll get things worked out."
Also Thursday, the board:
¢ Unanimously awarded service contracts for chiller, electrical, heating, ventilating and air conditioning, plumbing and boiler services in the county.
¢ Proclaimed June 12-16 Business and Industry Appreciation Week.
¢ Signed off on an application for a Title V grant for the third year of the Truancy Reduction Program run by the County Department of Juvenile Services.
Monday, the board:
¢ Discussed rewording a cultural, historical and educational grant provided by the county to just "cultural and educational."
¢ Approved, 3-0, a loan from First National Bank of Leavenworth at 4.19 percent interest to finance a three-year lease of a bulldozer to be used by the County Public Works Department.
Public Works director Bill Green also apprised the commission on road surfacing done on 163rd Street north of Kansas Avenue that was to be completed by Tuesday.
¢ Approved a one-year contract renewal for Green at $81,549.