Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
During the public comments section of the March 22 Edgerton City Council meeting, several area residents spoke.
Don Cooper, Gardner, came forward during public comments representing a Blackhawk Townhomes. He said that 26 homes face a vacant lot between the homes and LPKC that was not mowed or maintained last summer.
Two of the homeowners were there and spoke as well.
The uncontrolled weeds and grass on the lot led to people dumping trash there as well, he said.
After discussing the lot with a representative of NorthPoint Development, Cooper said he was told that land was deeded to the city.
The homeowners were asking Edgerton to take care of maintaining the lot this year.
Later, Don Roberts, mayor, and Beth Linn, city administrator, explained that the land was not deeded to the city, only a utility easement was.
“They did not deed the property. They dedicated an easement, which means that the land underneath is still the responsibility of NorthPoint to maintain,”said Linn.
Roberts said that though the city doesn’t own the property, they do have some power to make sure that that the owner does mow and maintain the lot, and that they would.
Pat Peer, Spring Hill, who lives near the newly annexed land that will be LPKC phase II, spoke to council for the second consecutive meeting.
She is concerned with the growth of LPKC and does not want it to expand south of I-35.
She cited a list of concerns – truck/train traffic, public meeting notification process and financial risk.
She said the city has issued a total of $559M worth of Industrial Revenue Bonds for LPKC construction projects and that accumulation of debt was horrendous.
“These are big companies, and I can’t understand why you are taking on the risk and subsidizing them,” said Peer.
Later, after public comments had concluded, Roberts explained that the city is not taking financial risk by issuing IRB’s.
“There is zero risk to the city. We don’t own them,”said Roberts.
Lee Hendricks, city attorney, also offered assurance that the city is not liable, should the occupying business fail.
The question has been asked and addressed at every public meeting in which bonds were issued.
“It’s been asked a lot of times, is there any liability, and we’ve said it for the public many times, the newspaper’s heard it many times, there is no liability,” said Roberts.
The advice given to city council from bond counsel, that has been stated in previous public meetings on IRB issuances, is:
“These bonds are not general obligations of the city, you’re not responsible for the payment of debt service on those bonds – instead they’re payable solely from lease payments received under the lease agreement.”
Roberts said that due diligence had been done from the start to make sure that the citizens of Edgerton were not ever on the hook.