Plans on long-awaited road work advance
Commissioners extend life of moratorium, barring development along County Road 1
Leavenworth County Commissioners extended a moratorium that prevents development along County Road 1 leading to a proposed interchange with Interstate 70 for an additional 12 months Thursday.
The moratorium, or what County Planning and Zoning Director Chris Dunn referred to as a "planning pause," will allow county officials to research investment potential, the need for infrastructure improvements and a way to implement a financing mechanism that will ensure the county's ability to recoup taxpayers' investment for the estimated $13 million project.
In a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Dean Oroke opposed, commissioners extended the moratorium, originally issued in May 2007, until Nov. 21, 2008.
The moratorium's boundaries will remain as previously defined one and a half miles east and west of County Road 1, a half-mile south of Kansas Highway 32 and a half-mile north of Kansas Avenue right up to the Tonganoxie city limit despite a request on Tuesday from Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez to adjust the northern boundary because of plans to extend sewer and water lines on land just south of the city.
Oroke said he was in favor of moving the moratorium's northern boundary a half mile south to accommodate both Tonganoxie's improvement plans and a recent request from a property owner there.
Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson said the moratorium is aimed at bringing as much of the projected revenue stream from future development on County Road 1 back to the county and not the city or a private developer as possible. But he said, "There is nothing in a moratorium that prevents a city from annexing into the moratorium area."
" : I believe what we'd be doing is putting the most valuable area of property in jeopardy by moving (the northern boundary)," he said, adding, "I'm looking out for the county's best interest; we (the commission) all are."
Yanez acknowledged "the city has a clear understanding that annexation is possible if it's contiguous and voluntary," but did not elaborate on any definite plans for annexation.
According to Kansas Statute 12-520, the governing body of a city may annex land if it adjoins the city and is platted or requested by the landowner.
Dunn said while Tonganoxie can make annexations into a moratorium area, once a development district geared toward recouping the county's initial investment is in place, that area would not be subject to annexation.
Crafting such a development district that could recapture the county's estimated $10.8 million investment on County Road 1 was the second topic of discussion Thursday, as commissioners voted, 3-0, to table releasing a request for proposals for a planning consultant until a board meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 21.
The proposed RFP asks a consultant team to determine the investment potential of land along County Road 1, including what infrastructure is necessary, and to research creating some type of development district, Dunn said.
Commissioner Clyde Graeber said it would offer a concrete idea for who has interest there and what the plans are and answer the question 'Will there be an interest in the development district?'
Graeber ultimately moved to table the RFP, though, saying, "In my mind, we're getting the cart before the horse : Until we get the contemplated costs back from the engineers for what it's going to cost to construct County Road 1, I'm wondering if we're getting ahead of the game."
Deputy Director of Public Works Mike Spickelmier said cost projections for the project's construction, based on the redesign of a tie-in with U.S. Highway 24-40, should be finalized shortly after the first of the year.
In other business, the board:
¢ Approved, 3-0, a bid to buy approximately 10,000 feet of fencing for work on County Road 30 from Forever Fencing, of Tonganoxie, at $2.90 per foot, including labor.
¢ Tabled a request by Public Works officials to purchase a pickup truck-mounted snowplow due to a shortage of snow removal vehicles after an accident earlier this year.
Commissioner Oroke said he "would feel more comfortable re-letting bids to include installation."