Sewer Fee Increase and Wyman School Cleanup Project Top Excelsior Springs Council Agenda

Items 1 & 2: Public Hearing & Consideration of 353 Tax Abatement for 426 Isley Blvd.

The Council approved an application for Chapter 353 Tax Abatement submitted by property owner Caleb Smith for the property at 426 Isley Boulevard. Neighborhood Specialist Laura Mize presented the consideration.

Smith, who owns the rental property at 426 Isley Blvd, was seeking tax abatement to fund extensive repairs and improvements. The proposed renovation plan includes a complete interior remodel, alongside significant exterior work such as chimney repairs, exterior touch-ups, window and gutter repairs, replacement of exterior doors, back patio repairs, and the addition of a gravel driveway and pavers.

The staff’s review confirmed that the property is zoned Residential. The Historic Preservation Commission reviewed and approved the project on July 12, 2023. The renovation aligns with the Residential Guidelines requirements, with projected expenditures totaling $16,800. Notably, 50% of this budget is allocated for exterior refurbishment. 

Items 2 & 3: Public Hearing & Consideration of City Fee Schedule Update for Sewer Fees

In a public hearing and subsequent discussion, the Council addressed the proposed adjustments to the city’s sewer fee schedule. Chad Birdsong, the Public Works Director, spearheaded the presentation.

Birdsong emphasized the necessity of the rate increase for the sewer fund, stating it was essential to maintain the distribution and collection system and ensure healthy reserve funds in the face of increasing costs. Following Missouri law, a public hearing notice was posted 30 days in advance of the meeting to facilitate public input on the proposed changes.

The proposed adjustments, set to take effect on January 1, 2024, are as follows:

For users inside the city limits:

  • The current base rate of $23.00 is proposed to increase to $23.60.
  • The current consumption rate of $11.28 per 1,000 gallons is proposed to increase to $11.58 per 1,000 gallons.

For users outside the city limits:

  • The current base rate of $34.50 is proposed to increase to $35.40.
  • The current consumption rate of $16.92 per 1,000 gallons is proposed to increase to $17.36 per 1,000 gallons.

Consideration of 2024 Regional Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program

The Excelsior Springs City Council, in its recent meeting, discussed the city’s ongoing involvement in the Regional Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program for 2024. Public Works Director Chad Birdsong presented the Intergovernmental Agreement between the MARC Solid Waste Management District and Excelsior Springs, detailing the program’s scope and benefits.

Birdsong highlighted that this agreement, a yearly contract, has been a part of Excelsior Springs’ efforts for several years. Participation in the program allows residents to conveniently dispose of their hazardous waste through regional drop-off events and permanent facilities in Kansas City and Lee’s Summit. The agreement, which is a part of the city’s budgeted expenditure for Refuse, is valid for one year.

For 2024, the contract is valued at $11,955.40, calculated based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 population estimates for Excelsior Springs, which stood at 10,580 residents, at a rate of $1.13 per capita.

Birdsong also reflected on the successful collaboration with Lawson and Richmond in hosting a mobile event in Richmond on September 9th. This event saw participation from 57 vehicles, resulting in the collection of 7,148 pounds of material. This initiative represents Excelsior Springs’ commitment to environmental sustainability and responsible waste management.

Consideration of Rezoning of Tract of Land Located at 1401 N Jesse James Road from District C-3 Service Business to District M-1 Light Industrial

The council considered a rezoning application for 1401 N Jesse James Road. City Planner Shantele Frie presented the proposal to change the zoning from District C-3 Service Business to District M-1 Light Industrial.

The applicant, CONAGAUCTIONS.COM LLC, occupies approximately 1.72 acres within the McCullough Industrial Business Park. This park houses a variety of fabrication and industrial businesses, aligning with the area’s economic and industrial objectives. Notably, the parcel adjacent to the site, located at 2107 N Jesse James Road and zoned under M-1 Light Industrial District, is operated by Ameren Missouri Electric, reinforcing the industrial nature of the vicinity.

In terms of infrastructure, the site is well-equipped with adequate streets, public water access, and existing sanitary sewer facilities. Furthermore, the city’s Future Land Use Map identifies this area for future mixed-use development.

City staff’s analysis concluded that the rezoning would be suitable for the existing structure and in line with past land uses in the area. The application was also determined to align substantially with the Comprehensive Plan and the city’s development standards. Consequently, city staff recommended approval of the rezoning application,

Consideration of Amendment to Chapter 400.300 Medical Marijuana Facilities Zoning Regulations of the Municipal Code

The Council examined proposed amendments to Chapter 400.300 of the Municipal Code, focusing on the zoning regulations for medical marijuana facilities. The proposal, presented by Doug Hermes, the City’s planning consultant, follows Missouri’s new constitutional amendment permitting recreational marijuana use.

In July 2019, the City updated its zoning regulations following a Missouri Constitutional Amendment allowing medical marijuana use. These amendments restricted “medicinal marijuana” dispensaries to C-2, C-3, and M-1 zoning districts while testing, transportation, manufacturing, and cultivation facilities were limited to M-1 and M-2 districts. Strict distance requirements from religious institutions, schools, daycare facilities, residential zones, and other medical marijuana facilities were also established.

The proposal outlines several operational conditions for medical marijuana facilities, including limited operating hours, restrictions on drive-through services, odor control, waste management, signage regulations, and compliance with city and state regulations.

Currently, Excelsior Springs hosts one medical marijuana dispensary. The new recreational marijuana legislation necessitates updates to the Zoning Code, including definitions and land use standards for new types of facilities like “microbusiness dispensary facility” and “microbusiness wholesale facility.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission recommends maintaining the existing framework established for medicinal marijuana facilities to address recreational marijuana use. This approach aims to uphold community standards and expectations. The proposed zoning text amendment seeks to align with state constitutional and regulatory language, addressing land use standards for the newly allowed facilities.

City staff recommended approval of the amendment, emphasizing the need for consistent regulatory frameworks to manage the emerging recreational marijuana industry while maintaining community standards.

Consideration of Resolution of Support of Department of Natural Resources Sub-Grant Approval

Economic Development Director Melinda Mehaffy presented a key item to the Excelsior Springs City Council, seeking a resolution of support for a Department of Natural Resources sub-grant. This grant, amounting to $250,000, is in collaboration with the State Environmental Improvement and Energy Resources Authority and is aimed at addressing environmental concerns at the historic Wyman School building at 108 Dunbar.

Mehaffy explained that the Wyman School, a long-vacant, publicly owned building, has been earmarked for development. However, a significant hurdle for potential developers has been the need for extensive cleanup, specifically the abatement of lead-based paint (LBP) and asbestos. The grant is intended to cover these cleanup costs, with the city being responsible for any expenses exceeding $250,000.

Earlier in the summer of 2023, an Analysis of Brownfields Cleanup Alternatives (ABCA) Environmental Site Assessment was completed. The report, prepared by Terracon, recommended full abatement of Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM) and LBP. The estimated cost for ACM abatement ranges from $39,000 to $65,000, with additional costs for technical oversight and clearance sampling estimated between $14,750 and $18,000.

For LBP cleanup, two options were presented. The first, involving enclosing paint on affected components, is estimated to cost between $60,000 and $100,000. The second option, removal, demolition, and abatement, was not recommended due to the building’s historical significance. This alternative could be significantly more expensive, potentially exceeding $200,000.

Consideration of Resolution of Support of the National Park Service’s National Landmark Application

Economic Development Director Melinda Mehaffy presented a resolution to the Excelsior Springs City Council, advocating for the city’s support of Watkins Woolen Mill’s application for National Landmark designation. Mehaffy outlined several compelling reasons why supporting this application would be beneficial for the city:

Architectural Excellence: Watkins Woolen Mill stands as a remarkable example of industrial architecture from its era. Its preservation and recognition as a National Landmark would highlight this architectural heritage and ensure its protection for future generations to appreciate.

Tourism and Economic Benefits: Achieving National Landmark status could significantly boost tourism in Excelsior Springs. Drawing visitors interested in Watkins Mill’s historical and cultural significance could increase revenue for local businesses and create jobs, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sectors. The mill’s popularity is evident, as it is already among Missouri’s top five most visited state parks.

Educational Opportunities: Watkins Mill presents a unique educational resource, offering insights into local and national history. Its preservation would benefit schools, museums, and historical societies, enriching the community’s understanding of its heritage.

Preservation of Heritage: National Landmark designation would ensure the long-term preservation of Watkins Woolen Mill. The associated regulations and guidelines would protect the site from development pressures, neglect, or deterioration, allowing future generations to continue appreciating this historical and architectural treasure.

Staff recommended that the City Council support the National Landmark application for Watkins Woolen Mill. This support is seen as a celebration of local history, culture, and architecture and a commitment to economic growth, education, and cultural enrichment. By backing this application, Excelsior Springs would be safeguarding a significant part of its heritage for future generations.

Consideration of Change Order for Hall of Waters Capital Improvements Project – 

Economic Development Director Melinda Mehaffy proposed a change order amounting to $55,170 for capital improvements at the Hall of Waters, a significant architectural and historical site in Excelsior Springs. This proposed expenditure is within the budget allocated for the Hall of Waters repairs.

The change order encompasses two distinct projects:

Repairs to Front Stairs: The first project costs $39,630 and involves repairing the front stairs off the north patio. These stairs have been closed due to deteriorating concrete. The proposed repair work includes concrete replacement and the application of a thin cementitious overlay. This project is crucial for ensuring safe access from the north patio to the front yard, especially considering the recent opening of the front yard area.

Plaster Repairs in the Bar and Second Floor: The second project, estimated at $15,540, focuses on repairing plaster in the bar area and on the second floor of the Hall of Waters. This repair work necessitates the installation of scaffolding and will be followed by repainting in the areas affected by the repairs.

The Hall of Waters, known for its historical and architectural significance, requires these essential repairs to maintain its structural integrity and aesthetic appeal. The staff’s proposal for this change order reflects a commitment to preserving and enhancing this iconic landmark in Excelsior Springs, ensuring its continued use and enjoyment by the community.

Consideration of RAISE Matching Funds

City Manager Molly McGovern presented an important agenda item to the Excelsior Springs City Council regarding the RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grant process. The discussion focused on the council’s commitment to providing local matching funds, a critical step in advancing the city’s application for federal funding.

The Capital Improvement Committee had previously approved the allocation of $2 million in local funds to match the city’s application for $21.5 million in federal funds. With the recent earmarking of $3.6 million, the city now requires a local match of $900,000.

McGovern outlined two potential sources for these matching funds:

  • Transportation Trust Funds: Public Works has reserves in the Transportation Trust that can be used to meet the matching requirement.
  • Pending Grant Applications: If certain grant applications are not approved, $500,000 will become available. This amount includes additional funds for various projects, including aesthetic enhancements for Garland Bridge, the purchase of buses, and the replacement of two bridges. Another priority under consideration is partial funding for the replacement of the Henrie Hill bridge.

City Manager McGovern urged the council to consider a resolution to provide $2.9 million in local matching funds. This commitment is pivotal for leveraging the RAISE grant, which would significantly bolster the city’s infrastructure projects and overall development.

Consideration of Deed of Release

City Manager Molly McGovern brought forth a procedural item for the Excelsior Springs City Council’s consideration regarding the property at 517 Kansas City Avenue. This ‘housekeeping’ matter involves a deed of trust from the late 1980s that has surfaced during the closing process of the Mill Inn, a private sale involving the Cowsert Trust.

The issue at hand is an open deed of trust assigned to the City of Excelsior Springs against a portion of the property in question. The Title Company handling the sale has requested that the City sign a release to remove the lien from the property. McGovern provided a brief history of the property’s transactions to give context:

  • 1987: The Elms Redevelopment Corporation began acquiring properties around the Elms, including the subject property.
  • March 24, 1987: A loan of $47,450.00 was secured by the Elms Redevelopment Corporation with a Deed of Trust on the subject property.
  • November 1, 1987: A second loan of $16,380,000.00 was secured from Metro North State Bank, bundling various properties together, including the subject property. This second Deed of Trust was subject to the first.
  • August 24, 1992: The property was sold to Arthur and Helen Parks.
  • Mid-1990s: Following the Elms’ bankruptcy, the City negotiated with creditors to acquire properties involved in the bundled loan.
  • August 3, 1995: The FDIC, as receiver of Metro North State Bank, assigned its interest in the Deed of Trust to the City, still subject to the first Deed of Trust.
  • January 31, 1996: The City executed a partial Deed of Release on various properties from the Assignment.
  • March 7, 1996: The City foreclosed on other properties included in the Assignment through a Trustee’s sale.
  • July 9, 1997: Arthur and Helen Parks sold the subject property to Orville and Evelyn Cowsert.

The council’s consideration of the Deed of Release is a necessary step to clear the title for the ongoing sale of the property, ensuring a smooth transaction and resolution of this long-standing matter. This action would effectively remove the City’s lien from the property, allowing the private sale to proceed without further complications.

Consideration of Video Service Provider Franchise Fee

In the final agenda item, City Manager Molly McGovern discussed the revision of the video service provider franchise fee, a long-standing revenue source for Excelsior Springs. The fee, which has been in place since the introduction of cable TV in the community, contributes an estimated $50,000 annually to the city’s General Fund. It compensates for the use of the city’s streets and other public properties by video service providers like Charter Spectrum and AT&T DirecTV.

In 2018, the scope of this fee was expanded to include these providers explicitly. However, recent state legislation mandates a gradual reduction of the maximum allowable fee. Initially set at 5%, the fee will decrease annually until it reaches a cap of 2.5% in 2027. The current rate stands at 4.5%.

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