City considers grant for Eastridge development
By Rod Haxton, editor
With the Maple Street housing development nearly complete, the Scott County Development Committee (SCDC) is looking to expand housing in the Eastridge Addition.
The SCDC has approached the Scott City Council to determine its support for a moderate income housing (MIH) grant that would assist in the development of housing or infrastructure in the addition.
According to SCDC Director Katie Eisenhour, the city can apply for a grant of up to $400,000.
A housing task force that was organized through the Scott City “Vision Committee” offered three options for how the grant money could be used if the application is approved:
1) Construct curb and gutter on Chestnut Street (east of Maple). Est. cost: $175,000.
2) Construct curb/gutter on Chestnut Street and build two homes between Yucca and 7th Street. The development would mirror what’s happening on Maple Street. Est. cost: $400,000, plus additional local money.
3) Construct curb/gutter on Chestnut Street to 7th Street and extend Maple Street another block south to 8th Street. Est. cost: $350,000.
In options one and three, the grant would be used for street/curb/gutter work. The city’s match would be for water/sewer lines.
Without the city offering some type of matching investment, Eisenhour said there is no way the grant application will be accepted. When the city last made application for the grant in 2013 it was turned down.
Mayor Dan Goodman quickly voiced his objection to the second option.
“I’m not comfortable with the city getting into the home building business,” he said.
Councilman Everett Green, who is also on the task force, feels there are individuals willing to invest in more housing in the area “if we can get the infrastructure in place.”
Eisenhour noted that when the final four homes are constructed on Maple Street as part of the Northwest Kansas Housing Development project that housing in the subdivision will have added $2.66 million to the local tax base.
“The 2-1/2 years it will have taken to complete Maple Street is longer than the one year we had anticipated, but I think further development will move along more quickly,” predicted Eisenhour.
Green agreed that the need for additional housing is “accelerating.”
How to handle the special assessments continues to be a difficult issue for council members.
It’s been suggested that the city could forgive all special assessments for new construction on Chestnut to enhance the prospect of the development and sale of homes. However, this would be treating those homeowners differently than the buyers on Maple Street who are paying assessments that range between $1,162 and $1,236 annually. Those assessments remain in effect for 10 years.
“Be prepared for a backlash from the homeowners who are already out there and who are paying the specials,” said City Attorney John Shirley.
In order to get around concerns about setting a “precedent,” Eisenhour said one option would be for the city to give those developers who have built housing in Scott City since 2012 the first opportunity to purchase lots on Chestnut Street. Those lots could be developed by the home builders with no special assessments included.
Shirley wondered if the price of the lots could increase if there are no special assessments attached.
Councilman Fred Kuntzsch had similar concerns about who would benefit most from that arrangement.
“What incentive is there for the developers to pass any savings to the home buyers?” he asked.
Green didn’t want the debate over special assessments to overshadow the benefits should the city be successful in getting a grant.
“I understand there are precedent problems, whether this is fair to other property owners in the area,” he says. “Special assessments are a particularly important issue if we want developers to build multi-family housing units and they retain ownership. The cost of specials would be cumbersome and they would have to build that into their rent.”
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