City council gives nod to new regulations
Tuesday’s Baldwin City Council meeting drew a small crowd and more discussion on changes in subdivision regulations, but it didn’t change much.
Two residents spoke to the council at the beginning of the meeting during public comment. Lee Whaley wanted something done about 11th Street, where a new sewer line is being installed. Joe Scraper urged the council to require sidewalks in large new subdivisions, something the council voted 3-2 at its last meeting not to require.
“I’ve walked 6,600 miles on the streets and sidewalks of Baldwin City,” said Scraper, well known for his walking accomplishments for years. “I’d like you all to think about this. We need sidewalks more than we need hiking and biking trails. To make a new development without curbs, guttering and sidewalks would be wrong.”
Two council members, President Ted Brecheisen, Jr., and Tom Farmer, agreed with Scraper regarding the regulations for subdivisions that would have 1-3-acre lots.
“What I have a little bit of trouble with is these are higher-dollar houses that could afford it,” said Farmer. “The other subdivisions are required to have them. We are adding cost to those houses and not on these. That’s putting a larger tax burden on those developments. That’s not being equal. That’s giving people who can afford it an exception.”
Brecheisen said he supported Farmer’s point and had more.
“We have fought to get sidewalks in subdivisions,” said Brecheisen. “If we start to allow this, we will be taking a step back. I think people ought to be entitled to a safe sidewalk anywhere in town. I just feel like Tom does when we open ourselves to a game plan that doesn’t include sidewalks.
“I think the benefits of sidewalks out surpass any cost savings for subdivisions,” he said. “I feel very strongly that we as a governing body are taking a step backward. I don’t want to be a member of the council that turned my back on someone in a wheelchair for someone who wants to put some money in their pocket.”
The regulations without sidewalks again passed 3-2. Brecheisen and Farmer voted against it. Council Members Mike Magers and Robin Bayer voted for it. Mayor Ken Wagner voted for it to break the tie. Council Member Bonnie Plumberg, who had voted for it, wasn’t at Tuesday’s meeting. The council will vote on the regulations for the last time at its next meeting.