The Mayor’s column – December ’09

News this month comes from outside the Council chambers where Sol Ellis and Mark Simpson formally filed an application for Lake Quivira’s (LQ) portion of the 64-acre “Links at Lake Quivira” development. With 38 acres of the proposed development inside the boundaries of LQ (the property to the South of Quivira Lane) and another 26 acres between Quivira Lane and Holliday Drive under the jurisdiction of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County (UG), I thought it might be helpful to review the process the application is anticipated to follow in the coming weeks.

The process begins at 6 p.m. on December 8, when the City’s Planning Commission holds a public hearing at City Hall and begins formal consideration of the portion of the application within LQ; LQ has no jurisdiction over the part under the UG’s control. However, the property within the UG’s control is integral to the entire proposal and the Planning Commission will review issues related to both areas. This makes even more sense in light of the Council’s recent discussions about annexing the UG property; annexation would give LQ jurisdiction over the entire project.

Following the public hearing and prior to formal action, I understand the developer intends to hold at least one informational meeting for residents followed by a vote of the Quivira, Inc. Foundation membership. The vote would be to allow the currently projected 83 new home site owners to become Foundation members and bring the property inside the Quivira, Inc. boundaries.

If the Quivira, Inc. vote proves favorable, the next step in the process would be LQ’s annexation of the UG property. Following the City Council’s recent engagement with the UG over annexation, the UG made it clear they were not interested in LQ annexing the property without assurances of development. Development supports annexation because the property would be valued higher and produce more tax revenue for the UG if within the City of Lake Quivira.

Assuming LQ successfully annexes the property, the rezoning application would be amended to include the newly annexed property. This would require another public notice and hearing, after which the Planning Commission would give the application further consideration and make a recommendation to the City Council. Finally, the City Council would act upon that recommendation.

This process may seem cumbersome, but the situation is complicated with the property under the jurisdictions of two governments and the need for a favorable Quivira, Inc. vote to see it all to completion. There’s clearly much to consider and many issues are intertwined. However, the process gives everyone an opportunity to fully explore the potential for development of the property, the issues it raises and the “Links at Lake Quivira” application in particular.

This is a defining moment in the course of Quivira history, clearly the most significant since 1944 when residents decided to acquire Quivira’s amenities and its undeveloped land from the Quivira Company for $65,000.Like the current issue of additional development, the 1944 acquisition was also controversial. Lawsuits over the status of 20 building lots that were part of the Quivira, Inc. purchase flew back and forth between the new Quivira, Inc. and the Quivira Company until the Kansas Supreme Court settled the matter in 1952.Meanwhile, costs of maintaining the amenities were uppermost in the minds of Quivira, Inc., in no small part because 71 of the 310 property owners either couldn’t or wouldn’t pay their dues and assessments per the newly adopted Restrictions and Covenants. More lawsuits followed against 50 of the 71 property owners for non-payment.

After decades of speculation and discussion about further development, it looks as though Quivirans may actually have an opportunity to make their interests known through a membership vote on the “Links at Lake Quivira.” In the 1940’s, as now, a major concern was the cost of maintaining Quivira’s amenities. Today, with a long and strong history as a community, additional issues enter the equation and we now have an opportunity to explore them.

Unlike many of the past development proposals which have largely been birds in the bush, this one is real and needs to be taken seriously. It has some of Kansas City’s finest developers behind it, including the money to bring it to life even in this weak economy. I encourage everyone to ask questions and become informed as the process unfolds. Only then will we collectively be able to make the best decision for the community and write a significant chapter in Quivira’s history.

On a different subject, our regional Kansas legislators attended the Council of Mayors meeting this past month to share the Kansas Legislature’s perspective mostly on money issues. News on that front was bleak with state revenues down significantly. Legislators made it abundantly clear that cities should not expect the past level of state revenue sharing to continue. While this is not a big issue for us, we certainly could lose revenue from things like alcohol taxes which fund our annual fireworks display.

Currently, Lake Quivira is the envy of our counterpart cities with its stable real estate values, its lack of dependence on commercial and retail business for tax revenue, and its prospects for more development. We’re blessed in many ways!

Have a great holiday season and try to use part of it to get fully engaged in the development proposal before us.