Special to The Gardner News
At the Gardner’s Nov. 20 meeting, the council considered a rezoning request and development plan for a senior living apartment complex, heard news of saving $1M in interest costs and reviewed the City of Gardner Strategic Plan.
Bethel Estates Expansion
After approving the consent agenda, which included a Quit Claim Deed for the sale of property at Gardner Lake, council considered two committee recommendations.
Larry Powell, business and economic development director, presented the Planning Commission recommendation for approval of rezoning the vacant property north of 301 W. Madison Street from R-1 Single family Residential to RP-3 Planned Garden Apartment District and approve the associated preliminary development plan for Bethel Estates Phase 4 and 5.
Bethel Estates is an existing single story senior apartment complex on the south side of Madison. The proposed development is an expansion by the same owners, that cross over to the north side of Madison.
Garden apartments are not allowed in R-1 zoning, but RP-3 will allow for a variety of residential housing building types, including Garden Apartments.
At the Planning Commission meeting, a number of neighboring residents expressed concerns about increased traffic, storm water drainage and other potential issues.
“The Planning Commission addressed all of those, felt like the project was a good project and approved the zoning to be sent to you,” said Powell.
There were no public comments at this meeting.
Powell handed out materials demonstrating the developers were taking action to comply with conditions the commission required.
Council approved the rezoning and preliminary development plan with a 5-0 roll call vote.
Council then considered accepting the right of way and easements for the subdivision, and approved by a unanimous voice vote.
Bond issuance and interest savings
Council considered an ordinance authorizing the issuance and delivery of $[3,735,000] principal amount of General Obligation Refunding and Improvement Bonds, Series 2017A, of the City of Gardner, Kansas; and providing for the levy and collection of an annual tax for the purpose of paying the principal of and interest on the bonds as they become due.
At the Oct. 16 meeting, council approved Resolution No. 1977 authorizing the offer for sale of approximately $3,625,000 in Series 2017A General Obligation Refunding and Improvement Bonds.
“This sale was to take care of phase 2 of our pavement management program and also for refinancing existing bonds for interest cost savings,”said Laura Gourley, finance. “The very first thing you read in the revised ordinance is that the principal amount is less than what it was originally.”
While introducing financial advisor Bruce Kimmel, she said, “Since 2014, when we began working with Mr. Kimmel, we did indeed just surpass our million dollar in interest cost savings mark.”
The comment drew applause from the chamber.
Kimmel said there had been nine bids from underwriters from all over the country.
“Right now there is a great imbalance of supply and demand. There’s much more demand for muni bonds than there is supply, and especially Kansas bonds,”he said.
Kimmel said that even with the uncertainty of tax reform, investors were still eager to buy municipal bonds at low rates, especially to cities like Gardner that has has had strong financial management year after year.
Council approved Ordinance No. 2560 authorizing the bonds with a 5-0 vote.
Following that vote, council approved Resolution No. 1978 proscribing the form and details of the bonds by voice vote with none opposed.
Cheryl Harrison-Lee, city administrator, presented council with a review of the City of Gardner Strategic Plan.”Strategic planning allows us to take the five year vision that we’ve worked on, to economic transformation that is currently underway,” she said.
Harrison-Lee said the plan was the result of countless hours of commitment from governing body, community and staff.
“The plan represents citizen input from surveys, your strategic goals and prioroties, suggestions from our advisory groups as well as objectives from those visionary documents and implementation tools that we’ve developed,” said Harrison-Lee.
Harrison-Lee said she had a new initiative to talk about.
“It’s based on the logo that council members Moore and Melton helped develop, the power-G. That is G3 – for Gardner Guarantees Greatness,” she said.
Also the city will be using ‘performance dashboard reporting,” an online tool that will help monitor progress in achieving its stated objectives.
Steve Shute, council president, said he believed if you can measure it, you can manage it and this was “a step in the right direction.”
Shute made the motion to accept the Strategic Plan, seconded by Todd Winters, council vice president, and the motion passed by ‘aye’ vote with none opposed.
A fourth item on the New Business agenda was withdrawn from consideration. The item concerned revision to the city Personnel Policy Manual.
Shute made the motion to defer consideration of the item, which was seconded by Lee Moore, council member, and passed with none opposed. Shute wanted more time to review.