Council agrees to joint meeting, makes no concessions
The Tonganoxie City Council accepted the Leavenworth County Commission’s invitation to talk face to face about the scope and timing of a County Road 1 land-use study but also made clear there would be a lot to talk about.
Earlier this month, county commissioners asked for the meeting after negotiating teams for both jurisdictions produced much different drafts of request for proposals to be distributed to consultants interested in conducting a CR1 corridor land-use study.
While making the request for the meeting, county commissioners expressed a preference for the RFP developed by county and Leavenworth County Port Authority staff, suggested many of the items in the city’s RFP draft should be left to future studies and predicted the city’s scope would far exceed the $50,000 available for the study.
At a special meeting Monday, the city council agreed to the meeting, but only after council members turned the tables on the commission. After going through the two drafts point by point, council members found nothing they were willing to part with in the city’s draft while faulting the timing of the county draft and predicting it would be too expensive.
Common elements of the two drafts were their three-phase approach to the study and the identification of land uses in a corridor one mile on either side of CR1 from Tonganoxie’s south city limits to Kansas Highway 32. However, the city draft would indentify land uses in the second phase after a phase 1 market study of demand for residential, commercial and industrial land uses and their densities.
The city’s draft also asks the consultant to recommend development standards in the corridor for such things as streets, lighting, screening and landscaping and would have city and county engineers develop cost estimates of extending sewers and water along the corridor.
Councilman Jason Ward, who was a member of the city’s CR1 negotiating team, said the drafts revealed philosophical differences in how the two jurisdictions approached the corridor.
“For the county, a lot of this stuff is really years down the road,” he said. “(They) want a study of the bare minimum that will protect the area’s development potential.”
Ward and the city’s planning consultant Kevin Kokes argued a plan showing “bubbles” of recommended land uses without an indication of what land could be served by sewer and water and at what cost would be of limited value.
City Administrator Mike Yanez said the city needed to demand the study define development standards. County commissioners have said for the past three years they would demand quality development but the city has nothing in writing that development would include such “city standards” as asphalt streets with curb and guttering, he said.
“We need to maximize value so investors will feel secure,” he said. “Who’s going to want to develop a bunch of high-quality homes when there is a trailer park across the street?”
Kokes said the city’s RFP could be done for less than the $50,000 the city and port authority have agreed to jointly contribute.
Conversely, council members said the county’s draft, which calls for the consultant to develop an incentive package in phase II and suggest development fees in phase III, would duplicate the county’s first attempt to contract a consultant. That ended when a consultant came back with an unaffordable $150,000 price tag.
Council members also agreed the consultant should have public meeting in Tonganoxie while the study was under way. The county draft would only require public hearings during later city and county planning commission deliberations.
“We need the public to be involved,” Mayor Mike Vestal said.
In a final point of disagreement, the council took exception of only having one person on five-member panel reviewing PFP applications while paying for half the study.
The council did put an end to two months of word smithing of interlocal agreements that defines the city’s share of the cost of CR1 improvements and defining how to create future development guidelines in the corridor by voting to approve the two documents. As she has in the past, Commissioner Paula Crook voted against the agreements.