The Hillsboro City Coun?cil passed a zoning-change ordinance during its March 15 meeting that clears the way for the construction of an office building for MB Foundation at the corner of D and Washington streets.
Receiving a unanimous and enthusiastic 4-0 vote, Ordinance 1268 will change the zoning classification of three adjacent lots on that corner to ?general commercial,? a classification that accommodates a financial institution.
MB Foundation, a ministry of the U.S. Mennonite Breth?ren, has outgrown its current location at 315 S. Lin?coln, according to Jon Wiebe, MBF president.
?We started 25 years ago with less than $10 million in assets, today we?re at $175 million,? Wiebe told the council. ?I think it?s time in this city, and in our organization and ministry, that we have a more significant face as well as accommodate our growth.?
The council?s vote signals the end a prolonged effort by the city to deal with the abandoned PrimeTime convenience store property at 200 E. D Street, which had become an aesthetic and safety concern in recent years.
The structure was razed and old gas tanks removed near the end of 2015. MBF only recently received confirmation from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that the environmental remediation effort at the site had been satisfactorily completed.
The city?s planning and zoning commission had recommended approval of the classification changes, contingent on KDHE?s ruling.
?I don?t want to give perhaps the false impression that all environmental issues have been addressed,? Wiebe said. ?The issue for our board was really two-fold. One, what kind of liability risk are we assuming if we purchase the property because it does have issues, as you all know.
?The second was, what kind of risk are we putting our employees in if we build a building there and there?s fumes and those kind of issues.?
Following the Phase 1 environmental study, further dialogue with KDHE and a review by an environmental attorney, Wiebe said the MBF board was ready to move ahead with the project.
?It?s a good property, and it has challenges, but we?re excited already about the work that?s been done as we?ve been pushing for this to happen so we could get it to a place where we could purchase it,? he said.
Ordnance 1268 also will change the zoning classification of the two adjoining lots to the north, 412 and 410 S. Washington, from ?R-2 residential? to ?general commercial.?
In time, both houses on those lots will be removed to make room for the proposed project. Wiebe said groundbreaking could occur in July.
The council approved a request from the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church to prohibit parking along the east side of Prairie Pointe Street, from C Street north to the campus entrance, citing safety concerns in the event of an emergency evacuation.
?Presently, there are occasions when cars park on both sides of Prairie Pointe,? according to the written request from the church. ?When those cars leave they must turn around against oncoming traffic, creating congestion.
?The biggest concern we have is in the event of an emergency, parking on both sides of the street basically limits traffic to one way to be comfortable.?
The council unanimously approved the request, but it was unclear at the meeting whether it takes a city ordinance to enact the change. If so, the council will address the ordinance at its next meeting.
In other business, the council:
? approved a request from the Chamber of Com?merce Promotions Commit?tee to block off North Main Street, from Grand Avenue to the area just north of the Norel Farms Bakery and Central National Bank, from 4-7:30 p.m. April 19 to accommodate a Chamber-sponsored block party. The intersection at North Main and First streets also will be closed during that time.
Marie Kessler, representing the committee, said at last year?s block part, held in fall, 250 meals were served.
? approved Ordinance 1267, which enacts multiple easement changes related to the rerouting of water lines by the city to accommodate the new baseball practice facility on the Tabor College campus.
The ordinance also vacates a ?no-name? street along the west side of the baseball field and tennis courts that, legally, runs through the historic church that was moved onto the site several years ago.
Tabor will receive the east half of that ?street? and Hillsboro MB?Church will receive the west half, which lies adjacent to its cemetery.
The ordinance provides for a 30-day protest period following approval.
? approved new insurance rates for 2016-17 through IMA Wichita for a total premium of $85,884. That is $985 less than the current policy. Contributing to the savings was a required deductible increase from $1,000 to $2,500 for wind and hail damage.
? reaffirmed Mike Duerk?sen and Larry Paine to represent the city as directors on the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency board, with Bob Watson serving as an alternate.
? approved a three-year contract with Adams, Brown, Beran & Ball for audit services at a total cost of $47,280. The contract does not include the cost of any ?single audits? that might be required if the city is awarded federal any grants exceeding $500,000 during the three-year period.
Paine indicated three bids had been submitted; after reviewing them, he and City Clerk Jan Meisinger concluded that ABB&B?s proposal was the best one.
? approved a final payment for the city?s airport master plan for EBH & Asso?ciates in the amount of $17,000. City staff, in turn, will seek reimbursement for $16,625 from KDOT-Aviation as stipulated in the grant agreement.
? Hillsboro resident Marty Fenton reported back to the council on information he had gathered from several sources regarding the development of a community garden. Paine invited Fenton to meet with him to conceptualize a plan for such a project.