Proposals to push forward new ideas for economic growth in Lee’s Summit were endorsed by the City Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee.
Chairman David Mosby at the April 17 meeting said the City Council had completed its vision for an economic plan and needed to consider its next steps. He asked the other committee members for suggestions.
The committee also discussed an updated proposal for a urban renewal zone offered by the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, a city-appointed board.
Councilmember Derek Holland said the committee and council had spent a lot of time discussing the issue.
“One of the things that strikes me, I feel we’re at a point where we really need to get serious about economic development,” Holland said.
He commented that the Lee’s Summit community has a lot of talented and willing people to help the city shape a strategy, such as members of the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council, the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street Inc. and the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.
Holland acknowledged that he is not an economic development expert. He said the councils role is not to do the “day-to-day work” but to give an impetus to staff.
So Holland moved to make a recommendation that the full council to direct staff to come up with a strategy for economic development, working with those other organizations, then bring it to the council.
Councilmember David Mosby agreed but asked that the staff’s direction specifically include using the five objectives in the City Council’s vision statement. Staff would decide on goals, objectives and measurements from the vision for “what we should do to put the rubber on the road for economic development.”
The committee agreed.
The vision statement reads:
“Lee’s Summit will build upon and promote its unique downtown, educational excellence and cultural heritage to create and nurture a business environment which fosters entrepreneuership, commercial and neighborhood redevelopment, and the attraction and retention of high quality jobs in targeted businesses. In doing so, the tax base will grow ensuring the City’s continued ability to deliver an outstanding quality of life and services to both businesses and residents. “
Along that path, the committee told the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority to continue refining its proposal for a proactive Urban Renewal Area along the U.S. 50 corridor.
The City Council has already approved such an area for downtown Lee’s Summit.
The most current plan is for a skinny corridor along U.S. 50 that runs from just south Chipman Road, including Missouri 291 South and the industrial area south of U.S. 50 , continuing east on U.S. 50, then swinging north along Missouri 291 until it reaches Colbern Road.
It would exclude some parcels such as the Wal-Mart Supercenter, Ritter Plaza, the recently approved Hy-Vee Gas and Convenience store.
Chris Sally, of Development Initiatives, a consultant for the city, said that after discussion the authority members think it makes sense to apply the zone for the older commercial corridors, it is not intended to include residences.
The urban renewal zone would be separate zone from an Enhanced Enterprise Zone also being considered by the City Council.
The two zones might overlap in specific areas.
Sally said any abatement should be chosen for one or the other zones under any particular redevelopment proposal.
Another thing the zones have in common is they require a blight designation, a step that worries some property owners.
Sally said the LCRA will mail notices to owners in the corridor and hold public meetings to get owners comments and refine the plan. Once it has a proposal that seems to have broad support, the LCRA will bring it to the committee and city to start the public hearing process.
Sally said that by approving the proposed redevelopment zone the city could save about $10,000 in costs for studies to create multiple zones over time.
The redevelopment zone could stimulate redevelopment because it gives freezes property at the current rate taxes for 10 years for an approved project. All other taxes would be collected.
Having the urban renewal zone in place also saves a developer four to six months compared to if the developer had to apply for creating a redevelopment area for a specific project, saving them and additional expense and time.
The council has case-by-case control projects approved for the abatement, Sally said.