Butler County Times Gazette
  • City Council: NRP hearing added to Monday work session

  • Most of the action at Monday night’s Augusta City Council meeting consisted of planning future meetings.
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  • Most of the action at Monday night’s Augusta City Council meeting consisted of planning future meetings.
    The governing body already had a work session planned for Monday, Feb. 25 at the Public Safety Building to discuss possible changes to the downtown building design ordinance.
    After Councilor Matt Malone made a recent motion to do away with the ordinance that regulates how downtown businesses design their buildings, the council has begun looking for possible amendments to the ordinance to make it easier to follow.
    At a recent meeting, city staff asked the council and the design committee to propose suggestions for changes that could be organized in advance of the work session.
    Most of those changes focus on color scheme limitations, facades, windows and signage. The councilors will discuss these details Monday night at their work session.
    They also had a public hearing set on the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Plan on the March 4 regular meeting agenda.
    But after discussion Monday night, the council decided to add the NRP to that work session agenda.
    Most of the council agreed that the NRP had paved the way for many improvements in the city that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
    “In my ward (Ward 2) there have been definite improvements where it wouldn’t have happened without the program,” Councilor Mike Huddleston said. “We may need to cut it down, but the program does work.”
    Matt Malone agreed that the program worked, but there were some drawbacks in the newer developments.
    “I know especially south of Kelly, it has helped, but in my ward (Ward 4) I have heard comments that the program has hurt resale values of existing homes by making new developments cheaper,” Malone said.
    As the discussion continued to focus on keeping the areas south of Kelly Avenue in the program and limiting commercial applications and residential areas north of Kelly, Councilor Sue Jones pointed out that a complete discontinuation might not be the best answer.
    “Some newer homes north of Kelly need improvement, too,” Jones said.
    “Maybe, we could keep the program in place for improvements but not new construction,” said City manager Bill Keefer.
    The council also hopes to receive input from developers and homebuilders who work in the area before making a final decision on March 4.
    Several will be invited to Monday’s work session.
    The council will also have Kansas Open Meetings Act training on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Public Safety Building.
    The council also planned a lot of what could be a daunting March 4 agenda.
    Page 2 of 2 - One of the issues that will be on that agenda is the repair of the one million gallon water tank at the water treatment plant.
    The bids for this project came in significantly above estimates. A few of the vendors said the 60-day completion timeline was the main reason for the inflated bids. Willis Wilson with Aquatech is pursuing potential changes to the bids if the timeline was extended to 90 days.
    The council got another set of numbers from Wilson regarding the new water line to El Dorado and the Walnut River diversion project that would allow the city to use water from the river to keep the city lake full for nine months a year.
    The design and engineering cost of these two projects will exceed $2 million.
    That means the month cost would be more than the city is bringing in with the new sales tax when it goes into effect. The new tax begins in April but the city won’t receive the first payment from the state with it included until June.
    Keefer said the staff is seeking options to fund the projects so both can be completed as quickly as possible.
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