Archive for Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tonganoxie in midst of ‘game’ over CR1

This aerial photo looks east along the Kansas Turnpike at a new interchange being built at Leavenworth County Road 1, the road that crosses the turnpike using a new bridge about eight miles east of Lawrence.

This aerial photo looks east along the Kansas Turnpike at a new interchange being built at Leavenworth County Road 1, the road that crosses the turnpike using a new bridge about eight miles east of Lawrence.

December 10, 2008

The Leavenworth County Commissioners have hit the ball into the city’s court with a draft form of an interlocal agreement that will decide the future of County Road 1.

But before the city returns the serve, it needs to know what game it is playing.

“If you know the rules of the game it’s easier to play,” Councilmember Steve Gumm said during a special city council meeting Monday. “If you know what (the commissioners) are trying to accomplish, maybe we can help them accomplish it and still get what we want.”

Gumm and the rest of the council, along with city staff, city planners and city advisors, gathered at the council chambers to discuss the draft agreement sent from the county. The initial draft lays out who will decide on the development along the corridor and what the city and county’s financial obligations will be.

While there might have been some things in the draft proposal the city liked, there were many things it didn’t like, starting with the county’s idea of creating a joint planning commission.

Under the draft proposal, a seven-member committee will be formed to oversee development. The committee will consist of three members from the county’s planning commission, three members form the city’s planning commission and the last member chosen jointly between the county and the city.

The idea of creating more bureaucracy for developers did not appeal to the council.

“Creating a third body that would be working on this project has a great opportunity to add confusion and more steps for developers and more steps for the public, who would be interested in what they would be able to do with their property,” Councilmember Jason Ward said during the meeting.

The council’s other fear was that a joint committee might make concessions during the road’s development that will not conform to city planning standards if and when Tonganoxie annexes portions of the corridor.

Instead of inheriting sub-standard infrastructure, Ward made a recommendation of having the county agree on the creation of an overlay district along the city’s expected growth area which would adopt city standards.

Ward said that the city would be the best entity to apply those city standards.

“The county would benefit from such a vehicle,” he said. “Any time you have more dense development, you have great development of tax dollars, a greater development of commercial opportunities and residential. I know there might be some issues with county versus city property, but, ultimately, if the county can agree that those are areas that should be identified for city standards, I don’t know why we couldn’t work that into the agreement.”

Financing the corridor and how the two entities will recoup their money was also a matter of discussion at the meeting.

The draft proposal has the city making nine payments of $100,000, with a final balloon payment of $600,000 on the 10th year.

The council was under the impression that it would be able to pay off the extra $500,000 of the agreed upon $1.5 million with development fees and taxes brought on by developing the corridor and not just have a lump payment on the 10th year.

But Kathy Ward, assistant city administrator, warned against giving up developmental fees, such as water tap fees, that are used to provide services to that area.

Gumm suspected that many of the provisions in the draft agreement were in place by the commissioners to make sure that they completely recoup at least the money they spent for the road, and that’s why he wanted to know exactly what the county was searching for in the agreement.

On Monday’s regular city council meeting, the council will vote on a delegation that will meet with county leaders to discuss the agreement.

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