Hillsboro council gives green light to housing project

The Hillsboro City Coun­cil gave the green light for a new housing development during its May 2 meeting.

Council members voted unanimously to approve a zoning change from agricultural to R-2 Residential for the 30 acres north of Third Street owned by Russell Groves of Hills­boro, and also approved the development’s preliminary and final plats.

“I’ve been in Hillsboro for 11 years now, and if there’s one theme I’ve heard from everywhere is that we need more housing in this town,” Groves said. “What I’m bringing you is one answer to that need.”

The development has two phases, Groves said. The first phase will run parallel along the north side of Third Street, from Adams Street to just beyond Washington Street with lots for 16 houses.

“I’m asking for your approval today for the first phase of a plan for a larger subdivision on that entire 30 acres,” he said. “The frontage along Third Street gives us a good way to test the demand for this without a lot of street construction.”

The development will require a sewer line to be put in the entire length behind the row of houses. Groves said the new sewer line will accommodate the entire 30 acres as the market demands it.

“We’re putting our toes in the water with 16 houses along Third Street,” Groves said. “I think it will be a very good way to find out just what this market wants.”

The new sewer line would also serve the new Grace Com­munity Fellowship facility being built in the northeast corner of the acreage, as well as the city shop if desired.

Groves said his plan for the first 16 houses would be single-family residential, but R-2 residential zoning would allow the option of multi-family units “that will be compatible with the neighborhood.”

“I see this subdivision being entry level,” Groves added. “I don’t anticipate luxury homes there, but they’re going to be nice three-bed, two-bath type homes.

“If we find demand, there may be some smaller parlor homes, retirement homes, which is another thing I think Hillsboro has some need for.”

Groves said, “We’re doing market testing by building some houses. It’s a bit of a roll of the dice, but I think it has to be done.”

Darin Neufeld, city engineer with EBH & Asso­ciates, said the subdivision plan would include an extension of Lincoln Street to the north of Third, where someday it could tie on to East Orchard Drive for a secondary outlet.

As part of its motion to approve the plat for the Groves project, the council included a provision that on-street parking not be allowed on either side of Third Street from Adams to Main.

Paine noted that Third Street is narrower than most city streets and allowing parking on either side could present traffic problems.

Street projects

The council reviewed an initial rating summary for potential city street projects based on feedback from members prior to the meeting. The 15 projects included on the list of project candidates have been estimated to cost nearly $7.2 million.

“I’m not crazy enough to believe we can do all of them,” City Administrator Larry Paine said. “But we do have to get them on the list so you can see what’s there.”

The council’s discussion focused on the need to rehabilitate Industrial Road now that Hillsboro Com­munity Hospital has opened its new facility.

“From a practical point of view, we’re going to be seeing a lot of traffic out there starting a couple of weeks ago, since the hospital is already open and there’s going to be pressure on that road,” Paine said.

Complicating the project is that the city is responsible for maintaining the north half-mile of Industrial and the county is responsible for maintaining the south half-mile.

“It makes sense to improve both halves of the road, the county side and the city side (at the same time), probably sooner than later,” Paine said.

Present at the meeting was Jesse Hamm, road and bridge director for Marion County. Hamm said he came to listen to the council’s discussion, and wants to work in cooperation with the city on the project.

No street decisions were made during the meeting. Instead, Paine asked council members to review the list before the next meeting and decide whether some projects were rated too low or too high.

Paine also asked the council to give him “some sense for what your appetite for a bond issue might be for rebuilding streets.”

Bathhouse repair

The council voted 4-0 to engage SS Concrete Solu­tions, a business owned and operated by Scott Schultz in Lehigh, to resurface and paint floors in the Family Aquatic Center bathhouse for a fee of $11,000.

Doug Sisk, city recreation director, said, “We have had problems with keeping the bathroom floors clean and also having the paint from the floors peeling up as we clean it throughout the year. We have painted the floors ourselves three times in the last 12 years and we cannot get it to stay down and look good.”

Sisk said SS Concrete Solutions has a way of grinding the floors that is less messy and can accommodate the shower stalls and stools. The flooring paint used in garages and around pools stands up to many kind of chemicals and cleaning solutions.

Sisk said the paint will include flakes that will “spice up” the look of the floor and provide some texture to help prevent falls.

Board appointments

The council unanimously approved Mayor Delores Dalke’s nominations for city boards as well as clarify term lengths.

• Fire Advisory Board: Risely Township, Craig Dodd (2018) and Galen Penner (2019); City of Lehigh, David Terrell (2018); Liberty Town­ship, Jared Jost (2018) and Galen Penner (2019); Menno Township, Gregory Wash­mon (2018); Lehigh Town­ship, Delayne Herbel (2019).

One additional representative for Liberty Township is still needed.

• Library Board: Shelly Acton (expires in 2019), Brenda Kimberly (2021), Maura Wiebe (2018), Ruth Hamm (2020), Jamie Drig­gers (2020), Susan Watson (2021) and Robin Ottoson (2019).

Other business

In other matters, the council:

• heard Councilor Byron McCarty raise safety concerns about the intersection of U.S. Highway 56 and Industrial Road now that the new hospital is open for business. He suggested that the speed limit be lowered, or that safer turning lanes be built at the intersection.

Mayor Delores Dalke said a previous inquiry to the Kansas Department of Transpor­tation on that issue had been declined because “not enough people have been killed.”

• authorized the mayor to sign a contract with Ameri­can Tower that includes a provision for removing the cell tower on the north side of town under certain circumstances, such as ceasing operations before the lease expires.

The agreement also states that American Tower will make an initial payment of $30,000, along with rent payments.

Mayor: ‘Don’t get sick in May’

At the close of the May 2 Hillsboro City Council meeting, Mayor Delores Dalke alerted council members that the city will be without ambulance service during nine days in May.

Dalke listed the dates as May 6, 10, 13, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22 and 31.

“Don’t get sick this month,” she said. “We are without ambulance coverage for nine days. That means day and night.”

Dalke said volunteer EMS workers decided “not to take all of May” and that Marion County EMS has not been able to hire personnel for the positions it has been advertising.

“I think this is really scary because if you need an ambulance, you need it before a half an hour,” Dalke said, referring to contacting ambulance crews in neighboring communities.

“I will start going back to county commission again,” Dalke said. “I thought we were getting some place, but apparently things have gotten worse instead of better.

“(County EMS workers) have a place to stay now, but we’re not getting people hired,” she said, referring to a recent arrangement with Salem Home to use the basement apartment at the former medical clinic on South Main.