LS council drops demand for Hy-Vee expansion plan

rpulley@lsjournal.comSeptember 25, 2013 

Lee’s Summit’s City Council decided to cooperate with the Hy-Vee East grocery and allow it a permit for storage trailers without first submitting a plan for store expansion.

Councilmember Bob Johnson at the council’s Sept. 19 meeting moved to amend the previous agreement to remove a stipulation that required the company to submit a plan for eventually adding indoor storage before the city issued a special-use permit.

A one-year limit on the permit gives the company time to do planning and if it does not present offer a plan, the council can consider that, if Hy-Vee asks for a renewal of the permit, he said.

Council members Derek Holland and Allan Gray, who at the previous meeting had voted against the permit without the stipulation, voted yes, although Gray voted no on the motion to amend the ordinance. Ed Cockrell, who had vehemently objected to the permit, was not at the meeting. Rob Binney left the meeting temporarily and did not vote. Brian Whitley voted no, and the rest of the council voted yes.

“I’m proud of the job Bob Johnson did,” said Mike Barnett, a Hy-Vee employee.

The company had sought the permit because it needed extra storage when it was running specials. Cockrell opposed them because he said it was “blight” and said would set a precedent for other retailers to use storage trailers.

Holland said Hy-Vee “is a good corporate citizen and we need to respect that” and added the grocery chain should take its commitment seriously, because he would be against any extension of the permit.

Councilman David Mosby said the change “gets away from bullying and more toward fostering business.”

In other actions, resident Dale Coy asked whether the city would use some kind of website to inform residents of progress made on snow removal during storms.

Bob Hartnett, deputy director of public works, said the department was recommending no, when he made a report on preparations for winter. Hartnett said other cities are finding such systems called more calls from residents, who don’t interpret the situation on the website correctly or have questions.

In Lee’s Summit, the department has two systems, a computer system coupled with GPS from a third party vendor, which it uses that pinpoints locations of individual trucks during storms. It has an in-house system for highlighting neighborhoods as they are finished, created by the city’s information technology department.

Hartnett said that the city is concerned about driver safety and overloading servers for programs.

He said irate residents have come into the street to harass drivers, so the city didn’t want publicize the exact locations of snowplows as they were advancing. And residents could be confused, because the city changes the order in which it plows streets, so that the same neighborhoods don’t get plowed first every time.

Cost was another factor against the service. An upgrade of its system, at a cost of $52,000 and about $8,000 a year for maintenance, could make it available for public viewing.

Also, the Lee’s Summit City Council:

• set the city tax rates, which will not change from last year.

• continued a public hearing on orthodontists Craig Grider’s proposal to build a clinic downtown until Oct. 3 at his request.

• heard a report on a planned citizen survey.

Mark Dunning, director of codes administration, said the city staff wants council members to submiioint several questions to be added to the survey, which is completed every several years to track public opinions about city services.

The survey will cost about $19,000, Dunning said. It will be conducted by a research company the city uses periodically, which will mail surveys and follow-up with phone calls that will insure there are an adequate number of responses to get an accurate representation, from all areas of the city.

The company will mostly ask the same questions from prior surveys, allowing the city to measure itself against its past performance, and against neighboring communities using the same survey, Dunning said.

The city might ask some questions about how much public support there should be for private projects, Johnson said.

“Should there be a public subsidy for residential property?” Johnson said.

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