November 23, 2014

Officials haggle over proposed road funding

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
The developers of a property located on the southwest corner of 188th Street and Gardner Road will dedicate land for a road to the city, but they won’t pay to build the proposed street.
Known as the Shean’s Crossing development, the 36-acre piece of property is platted to contain 8 lots and now, a street that will connect 191st Street to 188th Street.
Typically, developers pay for constructing roads on their property and then the roads are dedicated to the city.
John Peterson, an attorney and part owner of the property, essentially gave city council members an ultimatum. As a condition for approving a final plat for the 36-acre development, the city requested that the owners dedicated approximately $330,000 worth of land to the city for the road.
Peterson told the council that the property owners are willing to dedicate land for the road, but they aren’t willing to fund the full cost of construction to build the whole thing. He offered to pay for segments of the road – one segment at a time to reach commercial pads as they develop.
“Either we get to that agreement – we pay as we go – or we go the other route, which is we back up. We don’t plat the ground,” he said. “We wait two years and kind of see where the chips fall.”
As the property is proposed to be platted, it would include a mixture of retail and multi-family housing. Under its current zoning, the developer could build out the property using a series of private roads. However, Mike Hall, community development director, said the city’s preference is for a public street on the parcel.
“This was a give and take, trying to work together since day one,” Peterson said. “We said we’ll start going after retail – not industrial or a distribution center. This plat reflects a really vibrant little retail center.”
City administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee said the risk in accepting land for right-of-way and not requiring the developer to help fund the street is that the city can’t be certain what traffic impacts the roadway will have until officials know exactly what will develop on the site.
“The council would be agreeing to not have any sharing on the cost without knowing how intensive the development cost is going to be,” she said.
Officials estimated constructing the road would cost $1.3 million without the city having to purchase right-of-way. Essentially, an agreement that allowed the developer to give land without having to help pay for construction would be an economic development incentive, she explained.
Peterson said the construction of the road would not directly benefit owners of the property.
“You’re not bringing me any great benefit by saying, give us the right-of-way free and saying, now pay for it,” Peterson said.
He asked the council to give the developers and city staff another 30 days to try to reach an agreement on the right-of-way and the road construction.
Council agreed to continue the discussion for 30 days. Council members also directed city staff to write the agreement in such a way that the developer would dedicate land, and costs for constructing the road would fall to whichever party – the city or the developer – wanted to build the road first.
For example, if the developer built out one pad, they would agree to build a portion of the road that would serve that site.
“With this, we don’t have to build anything until they come,” council member Heath Freeman said. “We may decide to do that a different way, now we have the land so we don’t have to go buy it from them.”

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