Archive for Thursday, January 19, 2006

Council approves benefit district for extension of Golden Lane

January 19, 2006

In a step necessary for the construction of a new bank in De Soto, the city of De Soto and First Community Bank came to terms on a benefit district that will extend Golden Lane from De Meadows to Lexington Avenue.

The De Soto City Council approved conditions of a benefit district January 5 that would have the city pay for 33 percent of the extension's cost, an increase from the 25 percent it was thought the city would assume.

Last month, the De Soto Planning Commission made the Golden Lane extension a condition of its approval of FCB's site plan for the 6,000-square-foot bank and office it plans to build on the old Dew Drop Inn property.

The city already has a three-year-old set of design plans for the project that estimates the cost at $150,000. City engineer Mike Brungardt said that cost could be assumed to have increased by at least $50,000.

The majority of the council was willing to accept the increase in the city's participation, noting the extension was an unfunded item on the city's capital improvement list. Mayor Dave Anderson noted the city would have probably paid the total cost of the project in two or three years had the FCB development not come along.

FCB's Dustin Baker said the bank's reduced share in the benefit district was fair because the extension would serve the community as a whole and wasn't essential to the bank's construction.

Councilman Tim Maniez agreed with one of Baker's points -- that the extension should have been completed with the approval of De Meadows -- but objected to the city's greater participation level without some objective means of determining fairness.

"I want to get away from this negotiation of how much they need it versus how much the city needs it," he said. "I have a problem with 33 percent without justification."

The longtime councilman said at one time the city had a formula that assigned participation in benefit districts. That formula or some objective means of assigning participation was needed to prevent arbitrary requests from developers, Maniez said.

Although other council members agreed a policy needed to be developed to help with such decisions, they supported the benefit district as proposed. (Council member Mitra Templin recused herself from the discussion and decision because her husband, Roger, has an association with the applicants).

"Let's not shut this down because of that," Council member Ted Morse said.

FCB officials are also asking that the city apply the excise tax owed on the project to the benefit district. Although council members indicated a willingness to do so, such a move would have to wait until the planning commission and board of zoning appeals place Golden Lane on the city's list of collector streets.

Before construction can start on the project, the city council must rezone a wooded, sloped lot on the site from agricultural to commercial. That rezoning will be on the council's agenda Thursday.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.