Archive for Thursday, January 6, 2005

City leaders meet with developers to discuss paying for growth

January 6, 2005

City planners and developers seem to agree on at least one thing. If Eudora continues to grow, benefit districts will be needed to finance the extension of utilities and roads.

Eudora Mayor Ron Conner and Planning Commission Chairman Kurt vonAchen called a meeting Monday to discuss the future of growth in Eudora and how it would be paid for.

"We're in a good position for growth," Conner said. "We want that to happen in an orderly fashion, in a way that makes sense."

With expansion showing no signs of slowing down, Conner said it was important for the city and developers to make a plan that is good for everyone.

"We're at that point in the growth of Eudora where we all need to work together," he said. "We need to find a fair and equitable way to share those costs."

Conner said utility capacity was not a concern, but distribution systems would have to be expanded for future growth to the city at the cost of millions.

City Engineer Cecil Kingsley said there was enough capacity in the utility distribution systems to cover all the new developments that had been approved so far by the city.

Developer Phil Struble voiced concerns early in the meeting that the city might not allow benefit districts in future developments, making reference to the Shadow Ridge subdivision where developers ended up footing the bill for improvements to 28th Street.

In that case, developers John McGrew and Dwight Perry said sales contracts between the developers and homebuilders included a caveat about entering into a benefit district, but not all homebuyers were aware of the plans. McGrew and Perry rescinded their request with the city to establish a benefit district and paid for the improvements with their own funds.

"If you're not going to allow benefit districts, that's a whole new ball game," Struble said. "We need to know that today."

Eudora City Councilman Tom Pyle said he didn't oppose establishing benefit districts as long as they are laid out before the homes were purchased and the new homeowners are aware of the plan.

Kingsley said if developers don't want to pay for the necessary expansions for their projects, the only way to get it done would be through benefit districts because the city could not foot the bill. He suggested developers get together and bring the Council a petition that made sense. He stressed the importance of making sure those who buy homes in the developments know they will have some cost toward those expansions.

Kingsley said there were many options on how to create a benefit district and to spread the cost.

The cost of a loan for a benefit district, estimated at about $1.6 million per 600 acres, would be assessed to property owners and paid back to the city through taxes over a maximum of 20 years. The individual cost to each homeowner would be determined by the design of the benefit district.

Councilman Scott Hopson said he would not be opposed to allowing benefit districts as long as it was still affordable for people to move to Eudora, citing affordability as a main reason new residents choose Eudora. He and Pyle both agreed they did not want to raise taxes to existing Eudora residents to make the expansions.

"If it takes benefit districts to keep Eudora affordable, I'm all for it," Hopson said.

Conner said the next step would be for developers to get together to make a plan that worked for everyone, and to present their ideas to the City Council.

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