Written by Don Ratzlaff Wednesday, 30 January 2008 08:14
The Hillsboro City Council authorized the development of a proposal at its Sept. 22 special meeting that could significantly increase the number of property owners who could take advantage of the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Plan.
The NRP exempts property owners from paying property taxes for up to 10 years on the increase in the appraised value of their property after they make a significant improvement to the property.
The minimum investment is $5,000 for a residence and $15,000 for a business.
The city is in the midst of an NRP that applies to the downtown business district and extends to the residential area to the north of First Street between Main and Madison. That plan, implemented in May 1999, will expire in May 2009.
City Administrator Larry Paine raised the issue because the purchasers of the former McDonald’s building on East D Street said it would need to be included in an NRP district if they were to move ahead with developing a new business at that location.
A couple of the council members said they didn’t appreciate “the bully aspect” of the buyers’ request, but saw value in developing a new NRP district that would included properties all along D Street, from one end of town to the other.
Until the issue came to her attention, Mayor Delores Dalke said she hadn’t really noticed the general condition of properties along the four-lane thoroughfare.
“I didn’t realize the deterioration along D Street,” she said. “You drive by it every day and you really don’t see it. You look at Tabor (College), and it looks great, but the rest of it—no.”
From there, the scope of the discussion enlarged to include the residential district north of D Street between Ash and Cedar streets and extending north to as far as Third Street.
With that in mind, the council authorized Paine to draw up a formal proposal to present to the council for consideration. The proposal may also include extending the timeframe for the existing NRP district beyond the initial 10 years.
More bang for bucks
Thanks to a proposal made by local Boy Scout Troop 129, Hillsboro residents will be allowed to legally discharge fireworks for an additional day this Fourth of July weekend.
Speaking on behalf of fellow troop members in attendance, Evan Wienck asked the council to extend the period for shooting fireworks through July 5 because it is a Saturday.
Wienck said because of the weekend, more people would likely be in town and would enjoy discharging fireworks. The booster club for Troop 129 operates a fireworks stand as a primary fundraiser. The extra day to shoot fireworks would likely increase sales, Wienck said.
After reviewing the existing ordinance, the council concluded it could make an exception to the current policy by a simple majority vote rather than by drafting a new ordinance. The council approved the Scouts’ proposal by unanimous vote.
In other business, the council:
n tabled a request by Police Chief Dan Kinning to authorize him to seek bids to replace the department’s 1998 Chevy Lumina with a 2008 sport utility vehicle that could be used as a new K-9 unit. The council indicated it needed time to review its funding priorities to ensure the city had sufficient funds for the acquisition.
Last fall, the council told Kinning the department could replace one of its older vehicles in 2007 and the other in 2008.
n approved easements to be granted to Tabor College for the various municipal utilities on the property south of its current football field. The college purchased the 40 acres from the city in 2007 for the expansion of its athletic fields.
As part of the recommendation, the council stipulated the city will not pay for the relocation of any utility lines if deemed necessary by the scope of the project. Also, any plan to move utility lines must be approved by the city engineer.
n approved an agreement between the Kansas Power Pool and Westar Energy, pending any amendments that might be necessary once the two entities come to final agreement on the contract. A signed contract ensures the city will have a permanent power supply agreement in hand.
n tabled a plan from Paine to replace the 1980s telephone system currently used in city offices. The council first will review its financial priorities at an upcoming work session.
n answered inquiries from Mark Pankratz, 218 N. Adams, during the “public comment” item on the agenda. Pankratz asked about the zoning restrictions for establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. His primary concern was about noise issues if such businesses were allowed near residential neighborhoods.
The council has yet to act on a recommendation from the Hillsboro Planning Commission to limit the location of drinking establishments to “highway commercial” zones.