Graphic courtesy of the city of Gardner

Graphic courtesy of the city of Gardner

Danedri Thompson
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City officials will be reaching out to residents just beyond Gardner City Limits. The goal will be to annex properties in short and mid-term growth areas into the city. Council members reached a consensus to have staff begin conversations with property owners and to draft a provide sewer service to short term growth areas.
Larry Powell, Gardner business and economic director, outlined short and mid-term growth areas in a presentation at an Oct. 5 council work session. Powell said there are approximately 637 developable acres in the city’s short-term growth areas near 183rd St. and Waverly Road and near 175th St. and Waverly. Those areas would require very little capital investment to prepare for development.
“Intermodal growth in this area will continue,” Powell told the council. “If the city wants to control the growth, the city will need to annex property to help buffer existing residential areas.”
Powell outlined approximately 1,172 acres in the city’s mid-term growth areas. Those areas, primarily near Interstate 35 exits at 175th St. and 191st St. would require an estimated $3 million in capital investment in order to provide sewer service. Powell said potential projects to prepare for future growth, like sewer upgrades to service mid-term growth areas, should be built in the city’s Capital Investment Program, or CIP.
Residents who live outside of city limits may be reluctant to annex their properties into the city, because their property tax rate would increase.
“Are you asking us to provide direction on whether we would essentially abate those taxes?” Council member Kristina Harrison asked.
Powell said at this point, city staff is just seeking permission to approach the property owners. Negotiations would occur at a later date.
Having access to city sewer service would likely increase the value of some of those properties, and city officials could also agree to build or upgrade roads in the short and mid-term growth areas to entice property owners to annex into Gardner.
Council member Todd Winters suggested the city should start work to add sewer in the mid-term growth areas today.
“To the development community, that makes it look like we’re ready,” Winters said.
Brian Faust, Gardner public works director, said if city staff began planning now, a sewer project could be completed by summer 2017.
Faust said potential developers know sewers take time, and one developer that has expressed interest in property in the mid-term growth areas said the property could be accessed by holding tanks until sewer was available.
“He understands it takes time,” Faust said.
City staff will begin conversations with property owners in those areas and begin planning for a sewer project.