Sewer capacity limits could cause building moratorium
De Soto could be forced to impose a moratorium on development until added sewer capacity comes online in three years, it was agreed at a joint meeting Tuesday of the De Soto Planning Commission and City Council.
The special meeting was scheduled to discuss a host of issues, but the question that dominated the discussion was how the city should consider new development proposals given the limitations of its water and sewer utilities.
The stimulus for the discussion was the City Council's rejection four months ago of the Arbor Ridge subdivision rezoning, in part, because of concerns that home and duplex development would have on the city's water and sewer capacity.
In his report on the rezoning, City Engineer Mike Brungardt wrote that should Arbor Ridge go forward with all other previously platted development, they would consume the remaining 100,000-gallons-a-day-capacity at the city sewer plant. City staff and the Planning Commission recommended approval of the rezoning with the understanding it would be phased development and that the City Council was working to address shortcomings in the two departments.
The city contracted a sewer master plan earlier this year, which is to be finished in November. The study will review the options available to the city, including building a new plant. But it would be three years before added sewer capacity would be online.
In the meantime, the city faced two possible wild cards that could greatly affect sewer capacity, Mayor Dave Anderson said. Intervet Inc. located in De Soto three years ago, indicated it would eventually double its current operation, he said. Another big sewer customer, Custom Foods, could also have expansion plans, the mayor said.
Additionally, Councilman Tim Maniez said the city shouldn't put itself in the its capacity. He suggested it maintain a reserve of 5 to 10 percent, which met with the approval of other Council members.
Aside from possible legal liabilities, which City Attorney Patrick Reavey attempted to dispel, it was agreed putting in a bad position those in the tax base the city wanted to attract wasn't good business.
Pressed by Planning Commission Chairman Kevin Honomichl and Planning Commissioner Roger Templin, if that meant the Planning Commission should forego further site plans and building permits, Anderson and Council members said added research was needed. For his part, Anderson said he would meet with representatives of the two companies to learn more about their schedules for expansion.
With those answers and further investigation into the effect of approved development on existing sewer capacity, the City Council would attempt to make a determination of how much additional development could be allowed. It was agreed the city could be forced to reject building permits and site plans until capacity was expanded.
As for water, Brungardt said the problems with the water treatment facility at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant were just as pressing but far different.
"Quantity isn't an issue," he said. "We have the capacity to supply us and two more De Sotos.
"The problem is reliability. We can't guarantee that for our current customers."
The status of the Sunflower water plant remained the same as it had been for five years, Templin said. Improvements there must wait until real progress was made in transferring the closed ammunition plant from federal hands, he said.
However, it wasn't suggested Tuesday that water could limit development.
It was agreed to have another joint meeting next month and possibly more thereafter in an attempt to work through the list of planning issues. precarious position of eliminating all