The Emporia City Commission approved a development agreement to set terms for and further ensure the construction of a QuikTrip travel plaza in the Flint Hills Crossing Community Incentive District during its action session Wednesday evening.
The agreement defines what the city and the developer will do in regard to the new development and outlines that the city will not have to begin construction work on the new road connecting the QuikTrip to Graphic Arts Road until sufficient evidence of progress on the travel plaza is demonstrated.
Additionally, it specifies that the city will split the cost of the new road 50-50 between city funds and CID funds generated from the additional 1% sales tax undertaken by the Flint Hills Crossing. The city will also be first in line to receive reimbursement from CID funds.
Special projects coordinator Jim Witt said that the total cost of the new road would be approximately $2.4 million, half of which would be paid for by CID funds.
He also noted that the county appraiser’s office estimated that the Flint Hills Crossing development would bring in $3.8 million in property taxes to the three relevant taxing entities (the city of Emporia, Lyon County and USD 253) over its first 22 years.
Witt added that he didn’t “anticipate seeing any major vertical construction there until the late third quarter, fourth quarter next year.”
The commission approved the agreement 5-0.
In other business, the commission rejected a request to rezone a parcel of land at 1501 E. Logan Ave., 1503 E. Logan Ave. and 1201 S. Weaver St. from agricultural use to light industrial use.
The city purchased the 88-acre plot of land for $1 million on Feb. 17 — with Mayor Rob Gilligan and Commissioner Susan Brinkman opposing — and annexed it into city limits on April 21.
However, Planning and Zoning Specialist Joe Foster reported that the planning and zoning committee had voted 6-1 to deny the rezoning request, citing concerns from neighboring property owners and the general public. He also said that so far, it is still uncertain how the land will be used in the future, although it was purchased with the intention of industrial use.
Commissioner Jon Geitz made a motion to approve the request while Commissioner Danny Giefer seconded it. Gilligan also expressed support.
However, Brinkman and Vice Mayor Becky Smith said that they didn’t understand why the commission should rush to rezone the property if there was not an imminent need. Brinkman also said she felt uneasy about overriding the planning and zoning committee resounding denial of the request.
Gilligan noted that rezoning it now would mean it would be easier for new businesses to move in.
“I didn’t vote for the acquisition of this land [five] months ago,” he said. “I didn’t feel like it was the right time for us to invest $1 million. The majority of the commission did and we invested $1 million for economic development. It would be really inconsistent now to not rezone it for industrial.”
Geitz’s motion would have required a supermajority (four votes in favor) in order to override the planning and zoning committee, and since Brinkman and Smith remained opposed, Geitz retracted his motion.
Gilligan then made a substitute motion for the request to be referred back to the planning and zoning board. That motion passed 4-1, with Geitz voting against it.
The commission also:
Approved an agreement (5-0) with Evergy for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot at 1000 Mechanic St. The installation and maintenance of the station will come at no cost to the city as the station itself would be Evergy’s property. Installation is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Approved a bid (5-0) from APAC-KS to resurface Kansas Highway 99 and U.S. Highway 50 in the amount of $619,297.76, with $300,000 coming from Kansas Department of Transportation funding. Work will begin this fall.
Approved an ordinance (4-1, Smith opposed) for Visit Emporia to operate a Common Consumption Area in the 600 and 700 blocks between Merchant and Commercial streets on a trial basis until Dec. 31, 2021. A CCA allows for a defined space other than a licensed establishment to be approved for the possession and consumption of alcohol under certain rules.
Tabled a consideration of the continued animal shelter lease agreement with the Humane Society of the Flint Hills Inc. for further study. Geitz requested that the Friends of the Emporia Animal Shelter be invited to that study session in late August or early September.