Scott Garrie, parks and rec director, and Chris Morrow, mayor, display a Proclamation by the Governor that recognizes the city of Gardner’s Smoke on the Trails event as an official State Barbecue Championship. The proclamation was presented at the Sept. 18 city council meeting. Photo courtesy by Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
All members of the Gardner city council were present for the Sept. 18 scheduled meeting and prior work session. The Sept. 8 meeting and work session had been cancelled due to lack of quorum when Lee Moore, Steve Shute and Rich melton declined to attend.
The work session at 6 p.m. was a presentation on the Water, Wastewater and Transportation Master Plans and how they were used in the development of the Capitol Improvement Element (CIE) that council would consider later in the regular meeting. Council also considered an agreement with architectural services for the new Justice Center, and adopting an ordinance to amend code for farm trucks.
$38M industrial project on east side
Council considered staff ‘s recommendation to amend a 2008 Resolution of Intent for the issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds for Midwest Commerce Center.
The original action set $160 million as a total amount to finance future developments. The first project was the Coleman facility, and that used $47,100,000 in bonds in 2009.
This will be the second project – a 615,000 sq. ft. warehouse logistics center and manufacturing facility that says it will employ 250.
For now, the tenant is to be publicly referred to only by the alias “Project School.”
The recommended action at this meeting would approve amending the existing Master Resolution to reflect current city policy on tax abatement and extend the termination date.
These changes have to be made to prepare for issuance of $38 million in IRB’s for Project School, which Powell said should come before council at the second October meeting.
The tenant will be announced when/if the resolution of intent to issue the $38m in bonds is approved in October.
Steve Shute, council president, asked Powell if he had gotten feedback if the school district was good with the arrangement.
Powell said he had discussed how it would be set up and performed with the district’s financial director, and he was comfortable with it.
“He says he has no questions and thinks it’s a very doable deal,” said Powell.
Council adopted Resolution No. 1973 amending Resolution No. 1763, with a 5-0 vote.
Capitol Improvement Element
The work session before the council meeting was a presentation detailing the updated Water, Wastewater and Transportation Master Plans.
Those plans are used to develop the Capitol Improvement Element (CIE), which was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission.
The CIE considers the need, location and efficient use of public facilities over a 20 year span. The primary focus is on capacity enhancements that will be needed for projected growth.
The CIE develops a 5-year schedule as a subset of the city’s 5-year Capitol Improvements Program and longer term, ten and ten plus year schedules, based on projected population increases and anticipated areas of growth. Population of Gardner is projected to be 36,580 in 2040.
Onelia Lazzari, senior planner for EDA Engineers-Surveyors-Planners Inc., presented the summary of the CIE.
Lazzari has been working closely with city staff to develop the CIE and praised them for their professionalism and cordiality.
“Gonz, Kelly Woodward, Larry Powell, Scott Garrie, Tim McEldowney, Michael Kramer – all of these folks worked with me and very patiently answered questions over many, many months working on this – and they were just a joy to work with,” said Lazzari.
Council approved the recommendation to amend the Comprehensive Plan to add Chapter 12 Capitol Improvements Element by adopting Ordinance No. 2553 with a 5-0 vote.
Opposition to Lineage Logistics development
Mike Jensen addressed council during public comments. Jensen owns residential property bordering the planned Lineage Logistics cold storage facility at New Century Airfield and leads a group of citizens who oppose the project. Jensen appears regularly at Gardner and Olathe council meetings, and county commission meetings, to speak about the issue.
Jensen told the council about a breaking news story that Leavenworth county commissioners were revoking bond support for a massive meat packaging plant south of Tonganoxie due to public opposition.
“They reversed themselves, based on public opinion. I’m very, very happy and pleased that elected officials listened to their citizens,” Jensen said.
Roughly two hours later, in council updates, the topic was discussed again.
Ryan Denk, city attorney, had been asked at the last meeting to look into the issue.
“The city did get a notice back in May that it was going through that process. That being said, the notice didn’t mention anything about the ammonia issues or anything like that. It just advised that the project was going through preliminary plat process,” said Denk.
Larry Powell, business and economic development director, had also reviewed the issue and referred to KSA 12-1741b.
“The city has no standing with either the approval process or the notification process,” said Powell.
Powell said the notice the city got in May was a preliminary plat notice.
“We did take a look at it, but since there was nothing there that required any action on the city’s part, we did not send anyone to that meeting, or take any action to our planning commission to process,” said Powell.
Steve Shute, council president, commented that it appears this starts and ends with the county commission and that the Toganoxie situation was a similar city-county situation.
“In order to be able to get those IRB’s removed you had to go back to the level of county commission. It sounds like this is kind of a parallel situation,” Shute said.
Chris Morrow, mayor, asked if a lawsuit had actually been filed or was just being contemplated. Jensen was still present and confirmed a lawsuit had been filed.
Morrow said that now a lawsuit is active, the county would wait for the justice system to play it out.
“You certainly seem to have the attention of a fair amount of Gardner citizens,” said Morrow to Jensen.
Denk maintained that the city had no legal grounds for objection. He added that if they wished to do so, the governing body could adopt a resolution expressing displeasure, although it would have no legal standing to stop or block the development.
Council considered a resolution designating the Legal Record as the official newspaper for the city of Gardner.
Motion to adopt was made by Lee Moore, council member, and seconded by Shute, Rich Melton, council member, joined them in the vote.
Todd Winters, council vice president, Kristy Harrison, council member, and Chris Morrow voted against changing the paper of record.
Moore called ‘point’ of order’ after the vote and objected to the mayor’s vote.
At the previous meeting, the city attorney advised, and maintained tonight, that this is a governing body vote, which means the mayor votes with council.
Due to lack of governing body consensus, the motion failed.
Amending code for farm trucks
At the August 7 meeting, a local farmer told council that he and others had been ticketed in their farm trucks for traveling off truck routes to access their fields and asked for an exemption for working farm trucks.
Tonight, Jim Pruetting, police chief, presented staff recommendation to amend Gardner Municipal Code to allow farm trucks to travel off designated truck routes when conducting business, under conditions defined .
This would be done by repealing and replacing Chapter 10.15 of the previous code in entirety.
Council approved with a 5-0 vote.
In addition to approving minutes of last meeting and last month’s expenditures, three other items were approved in the consent agenda.
The three items authorize the city administrator to: execute Quit Claim Deeds for the sale of properties at Gardner Lake; execute agreement with Wilson & Company, Inc., to design street improvements of Sante Fe, from Waverly to Poplar; and to execute a contract with Burns & McDonnell to conduct a rate study.