Council OKs permit for school farm

? Project approved quietly by a 4-0 vote.

Unified School District 410 will be issued a special-use permit that will allow the creation of a ?school farm? on the elementary school campus.

The Hillsboro City Coun?cil voted 4-0 during its March 3 meeting to approve Ordin?ance 1258 authorizing the permit, which had been recommended unanimously by the city?s Planning Com?mis?sion.

In contrast to two lengthy commission meetings where detractors and supporters expressed views, the council acted in relative short order to approve the permit. The only patron to voice an opinion at the council meeting spoke in favor of the project.

Prior to the council?s vote, principal Evan Yoder was asked to clarify how many animals would be part of the project. Yoder said it would include a couple of gestating ewes, a couple of gestating nannies, and either eight piglets or a gestating sow that would be on site for a short time so students could observe the births.

He also mentioned a couple of bucket calves and some chickens?no roosters.

Yoder said he intends to have the chickens on site soon since the school has acquired a portable coop in which to house them.

?We don?t want to bring (other) animals in until we have good lighting, secure fencing?all that,? Yoder said. ?The other animals are quite a ways down the line.

?We definitely want to use this initiative to enhance hands-on learning, particularly science and math.?

Buildings to be constructed for the farm will be paid for with private and corporate donations, not public funding.

Yoder said the first project will be to expand the school gardens and build a greenhouse that middle and high school students can also use.

Councilor Byron McCarty said he is confident Yoder and the school district will do a good job of maintaining the project.

Responded Yoder: ?It?s very important to me that we do this right, and that neighbors are happy with what we have out there?that it?s kept clean and attractive. I think the kids will be excited to take on that mantra.

?We want to be good neighbors and want neighbors to come down there and say this is a neat thing.?

In addition to a greenhouse, the project calls for the construction of a research barn, a livestock shelter and an exercise lot.

Energy code

?George? Fei Yang, owner of the commercial building at 101 S. Main St., was assured during the public comments time that the council will be addressing changes to the city?s energy code at its March 17 meeting.

Yang has somebody who would like to put a restaurant at that location, but the requirements of the 2012 Inter?national Energy Con?ser?va?tion Code, adopted by the council last December, make the project financially unfeasible.

With Yang was Billy Alcorn, an adviser from Ramona, who said, ?(Yang) can meet city code, but there?s no way any building up, down Main Street can ever meet energy codes. That building is absolutely useless to him for what he wants to do.?

City Administrator Larry Paine said he and Mayor Delores Dalke will be meeting with Ben Steketee, city code enforcement officer, during the week to identify changes to the code.

?We don?t want to make things too expensive (for new businesses), but at the same time we?ve got some buildings in town where the energy code ought to be applied as they leak like a sieve,? Paine said.

?Anything a tenant would do would be wasting thousands of dollars in energy costs without having something done to improve the situation.?

Councilor Bob Watson said the energy code was one of several codes adopted in December in what is usually considered a routine action.

?I didn?t realize the energy code was in there and didn?t realize the effect it would have,? Watson said in support of a review.

Other council members agreed, as did the mayor: ?I think we absolutely have to go through it, and take out parts that don?t apply. We need to get working on that so that in two weeks we have something that makes sense to everybody and that we can adopt.?

Turning lanes at U.S. 56

The council approved Resolution 2015-08, which certifies there are no legal impediments that would prevent the project to add turning lanes along U.S. Highway 56 at North Adams Street.

Earlier this month the Kansas Department of Trans?portation accepted a low bid of $335,264 from Hett Construction of Marion to do the work.

The project drew five bidders, with the high bid coming from Cornejo & Sons LLC at $447,410.

Paine said he expects the project to begin sometime this summer. In addition to an exit and entry lane for eastbound traffic, the project will add a bypass lane along the north side of the highway for westbound traffic when vehicles are preparing to turn south onto North Adams.

The project has been approved with no additional cost-share by the city. Paine said the city?s share was paying the engineering.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? authorized a request for bids to address the city?s chip seal project list for this year. The list was developed by street superintendent Dale Dalke and city engineer Darin Neufeld.

Bidders will be asked to price three different types of seal coatings so the city can address as many targeted projects as possible.

? approved a new sale contract from Craig Dodd to purchase the lot immediately east of his current business property in Hillsboro Heights.

The price will be the same as other lots at $6,750, with Dodd paying $500 as a down payment. He has 24 months to close the transaction.

According to the contract, if a third party makes an acceptable offer to buy the property during those 24 months, Dodd would have 30 days to close the deal.

Dodd will assume possession of the property upon payment of the entire purchase price.

? approved a cereal malt beverage license for the local Wal-Mart store currently under construction.

? agreed to revise the city?s tax-abatement policy to reflect a state statute that requires a business moving from one Kansas community to another to receive approval from the Depart?ment of Commerce if it intends to seek property-tax abatements.

The change was recommended by J.T. Klause, the city?s bond counsel.

? heard from Paine that bids will be opened March 19 to repair the city?s smaller water. The project includes replacing the top cover, which blew off during a wind storm and additional repairs to the tank.

? noted that $105,570 sales tax collected in January 2015 was $1,256 more than collected in January 2014.

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