Archive for Thursday, April 8, 2010

City council gives nod to new regulations

April 8, 2010

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.


Torch 11 years, 5 months ago

Not familiar really with they area they're discussing but most of the developments I've seen with 1 - 3 acre lots seem to get along ok without sidewalks. There's a significant cost in putting them in for the few people who would actually use them.


averagejoe 11 years, 5 months ago

As a Baldwin resident for more than 50 years (my whole life), who's family was once a pillar of the "old guard" of the city (humblely stated), I would like to make a few observations regarding these sub-divisions and developers.

I have no problem or complaint with upper income housing popping up around the Baldwin City area. In fact, I would encourage it. Many retired Baker alumni and KC area people are very welcome. These people bring new friends, neighbors and cultural opportunities to all of us.

Progress and nice neighborhoods are good.

My family has owned a nice, 100 year old home for 90 years within a 4 block area of downtown. We have waited for nice sewage, sidewalks, curbing and streets for more than 100 years. How about some street curbing around the older, most promenent areas circlulating the downtown areas? These are the neighborhoods visitors see. These are the "old classic Baldwin" areas.

How about some enforcement of city codes regarding "trashy and junkyard" residences? Junk RVs parked in mud lawns? Groups of illegal aliens habitating for summer work in the USA. How about polite, not rude, nasty city employees afraid to enforce city codes against certain ethnic groups? How about the fact that this residence is viewable to downtown visitors?

I am completely baffled by city plans to fund bike and walk trails in new developments while ignoring the needs of Baldwin City proper as a whole. What about improvements to the downtown surrounding areas- the real Baldwin City.

Regarding the sidewalk, curbing, sewage and street requirements in new developments. I'm not sure why this requires extensive thought on the behalf of our elected officials. All new developments across the country require sidewalks, curbling, sewage and street imporvements--- otherwise, 5 years into the future all residents of Baldwin City will be asked to foot the cost of these new improvements.

Developers in most cities always provide these add ons. There's no "yes or no" option. The cost becomes a part of the home price, as it should. The beneficiaries of sidewalks, curbing, sewage and streets are these very homebuyers. A family that lives across town is not.

Future upgrades and maintanance do become a city responsibility.

Passing on this obligation for new sidewalks, sewage, curbing and street improvements passes the buck in the future to all Baldwin taxpayers and takes money away from sidewalk and street improvements in the old Baldwin neighborhoods. Homebuyers get a handout.

This also smacks of favoritism and developer's "buying off" city representatives.

There is no legitimate reason to not require these basic impovements. It makes no sense what-so-ever to not require these normal neighborhood requirements.

(Trying to stay unbiased and focused on what is best for the most.)


storyteller 11 years, 5 months ago

Just so everyone realizes, Councilman Farmer voted for the relaxation of the curbs/gutters for 1-3 acre lots back in March. Then Ted Brecheisen snapped his fingers and his trusty, weak-willed lapdog changed his vote.


NanCrisp 11 years, 5 months ago

averagejoe: Amen!

By the way, some of the funds from the Main Street project could have been used to update sidewalks in more of the downtown area than just a couple of blocks of 8th St./High St. But a few people who cooked up a grandiose plan were like kids in a candy store spending "someone else's money" and failed to provide the City, the taxpayers, and even the Main Street (80% funding) organization with a cost efficient end result. A little less bling, and we could have had more actual improvements.


jmyrick 11 years, 5 months ago

Just a clarification. Tom Farmer did not vote for relaxation of curbs/gutters/sidewalks in March. In the first vote March 1 to send the regulations back to the planning commission, it was a 3-1 vote to ask the commission to include curb/gutter/sidewalks requirements. Voting for that were Ted Brecheisen Jr., Tom Farmer and Mike Magers. Bonnie Plumberg voted against it and Robin Bayer was absent.

In the second vote on March 15, the council voted 3-2 against requiring curbs/gutters/sidewalks. The majority there was Plumberg, Bayer and Magers. In the minority were Brecheisen and Farmer.


defenestrator 11 years, 5 months ago

Don't be silly, Storyteller. Everyone knows that Tom Farmer isn't allowed to vote on anything until he gets the go-ahead from Junior, and Junior would NEVER let Tom vote against this.


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