Making sense of dollar stores | Marion County File

Give sense
out of dollar stores

Of the many errors in judgment in handling a new dollar store project, the worst for Marion City Council was its failure on Monday to protect – or even discuss the need to protect – the city from damage. potentials that she probably will.

Forget about the city’s past promises, binding or not, about competing stores. Forget if the city needs more such stores. Forget about the drainage nightmares that can arise. Forget if neighboring residences expect and deserve a buffer, and the streets in the area weren’t designed for commercial traffic.

The city was not allowed to sell the land it had decided to sell. Still, he promised that there would either be no problem or that he would pay all the expenses incurred by the developer.

It is not just an opinion that we have expressed. That’s what an attorney for the Kansas League of Municipalities told council member Ruth Herbel on Monday. Still, his plea to get council to face the facts and discuss how to protect the city fell on deaf ears with Mayor David Mayfield and council member Chris Costello, who used a vote. tied for both putting their heads in the sand and turning their backs on it as they always have in recent months.

When it opened in 2001, the Marion Industrial Park set aside the land in question, not only for drainage and easements, but also for landscaping and open space. It was designed to hide the entire development of an adjacent neighborhood and to serve as a bookend for Ann’s Park on the other side of Roosevelt St.

The same dedication, not modified since its initial filing in 2001, indicates that the area is not the property of the city but “must rather be owned and maintained by an association of owners which will be formed in the addition of the industrial park of Batt ”.

No such group appears to have been formed, but that does not mean that ownership automatically reverts to the city.

Kansas law clearly states that land reserved in a subdivision cannot be titled. While flattening and re-subdividing can change the status of the land, the city code makes it clear that the land cannot be sold in anticipation of a re-subdivision. Buyers and sellers must wait until the new subdivision is formally approved.

The only body that has a voice in the re-subdivision is not the council, but the city’s completely separate quasi-judicial zoning council, whose chairman declined a request from city administrator Roger Holter to approve the project and avoid discussion by the full board. This is yet another relevant fact, like the potential challenge of selling Dollar General, which Mayfield and Holter never shared with city council members before they voted to sell the land.

The more the situation escalates and the more persuaded the potential buyer is to start preparing to take over the site, the more the potential buyer will spend. And all of these costs could eventually become the responsibility of the city.

After being falsely told they had 120 days to change their mind, city council members rushed to sign a contract that includes a provision that could hold the city responsible for the money spent by the buyer if the deal fails.

It is not clear exactly who is responsible for all of this. Mayfield couldn’t even remember Monday if he had signed the contract. He was reminded that he had done so. Costello kept insisting that it was not yet a contract because a signed version has not yet been returned by the buyer. That’s true, but it’s kind of like saying you shouldn’t get out of the way of a falling object because it hasn’t hit you yet.

What the board should have done on Monday is notify the buyer that the issues need to be resolved, offer them extra time to opt out, and in return, ask the buyer to remove the liability. of the city for all costs incurred as a result of these problems.

Not only would this protect the interests of the city. It would also protect the buyer. And that has the added benefit of being the right thing to do.

This may not be the motto of some members of the municipal government, but when all else fails, try honesty and openness.

Failure to do so not only puts the city at risk. He’s also intimidating the planning commission into finding a way to approve a plan they don’t want just so the city doesn’t face financial liability. If this has been the real intention from the start, the city could have far more problems to deal with than that.

– ERIC MEYER


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