The Emporia City Commission approved the $35,000 purchase of a portion of waterlines and territory from Rural Water District No. 2 during a Wednesday afternoon action section in the Municipal Courtroom.
City Engineer Jim Ubert said the purchase includes property along US Highway 50 between the Kansas Turnpike and Road F and Americus Road from the railroad tracks to Road 180.
Representatives from RWD No. 2 contacted the city about taking over the territory and waterlines due to the Kansas Department of Transportation upcoming expressway project, which necessitates moving water across the highway. Ubert said it then made sense for the city to consider taking over the service on portions of the district since growth is trending westward.
"As KDOT is paving their expressway and extending it further west, the natural growth will happen by industries or by residential," he said. "The Rural Water District does not have ability to provide sanitary sewer service."
Ubert said large industrial facilities would require sanitary sewer service.
"That's where we come into the picture on this," he said.
KDOT will be taking on portions of the cost to move the waterlines for the project, Ubert said. There are currently 12 - 15 residential customers in the service area who will pay rural water rates on the City of Emporia water system. The revenue should pay off the purchase in about two years.
Ubert said the acquisition is similar to one the city made in 2012 during the development of PrairieLand Partners, located on the 1700 block of Road F. But Commissioner Bobbi Mlynar — who voted against the purchase — said there was a big difference that she could see. The current agreement does not include annexation, where the agreement with PrairieLand Partners did.
"We have a city ordinance that says that if we provide city services, they must be annexed," she said. "We had PrairieLand Partners be annexed when they wanted our services. It just bothers me and I don't want us to violate our own ordinance."
Mlynar said she was not against the purchase as a whole. She said the city will need to look at expansion in the coming years, and it makes sense to look at further expansion west of town on US-50. However, she would have liked to gone about the decision differently.
"We will eventually in the future need to annex, but I think it really needs to be done now," she said. "I had no hesitation other than that."
Commissioners also passed a resolution to create additional Rural Housing Incentive Districts within the City of Emporia. The districts include the Pleasant Point subdivision, located between Oak Street and Seventh Avenue; the North Prairie District, which is the current location of the Lincoln Village manufactured home community; and the Western Waters District, located adjacent to the Jones Aquatic Center.
Passing the resolution does not mean any development will begin, according to City Consultant Jim Witt, but rather that the city can send the updated maps to the state for approval. The state generally sends a letter of approval within 30 - 45 days.
"Once this is all approved, if someone wants to use one of these development districts, they have to come before us with a development plan," Witt said. "That would include the types of housing that they want, which our policy limits them to single-family at this point, and cost of the infrastructure. We would then have a public hearing."
Witt said other tax entities would be notified of the potential development and any protests of said development within 30 days of the mandatory public hearing would terminate the development.
The city also approved an agreement with Sacred Heart School for parking along East First Avenue from Exchange Street to Cottonwood Street. The parking area will be paid for by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, and inspected by the city after one year. If the city is satisfied with the condition of the lot, it will then take over maintenance and care of the parking area.
^Proclaimed October to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
^Accepted an offer on a home located at 1019 Homewood St. The home was constructed as part of the city's infill housing program.
^Appointed Earl Hoffman and Katrina Miller to the Emporia Human Relations Commission.