Summit Place vote saved the night

Lee's Summit JournalMay 23, 2014 

The Lee’s Summit City Council was on the verge of having one of its worst nights in recent memory.

Thankfully, five council members prevented that from happening.

And with that, many around town are applauding an action that will keep the door open for future development and housing.

After a lengthy discussion that included more body blows than a heavyweight title boxing match, the council voted 5-3 in favor of approving staff to move forward adding about 40 acres of land for Summit Place (near U.S. 50 and Chipman Road, south of the Summit Technology Campus) to the tax increment financing district that already stands at Summit Fair.

Acknowledging the rational concerns of a few, TIFs are always risky. We know this. And, as pointed out by our city manager, Steve Arbo, not all are worth the risk.

Spawning development in this wide open tract of land cannot be seen as a negative. Questions began to arise, though, on the quality of the tenant(s) and gamble on incentives now, versus waiting for other developments to crop up.

In a time when we can use tax dollars flowing into our coffers, it seems like the time was right for us to move forward here.

While council theatrics are always entertaining to keep up with, I found the heavy leaning on Allan Gray and some of the new members of council particularly interesting.

Opponents like Derek Holland and Dave Mosby implored Gray (invoking his pro tem title) to think long and hard about his vote. Other times, the three council newcomers were asked to consider their votes carefully.

Chess matches on the council level can be productive. And this one certainly went all the way to checkmate, with Gray seemingly delivering the body blow in this fight.

Jeff Haney, who grew up in Lee’s Summit, the vice president for RED Development, correctly reminded the council of the successes in SummitWoods Crossing and Summit Fair.

And after taking some body blows himself, he was able to walk away from this round with a sigh of relief and a smile.

The TIF contract still has to come forward, so, this battle isn’t over.

But bully to the five council members that gave a thumbs up to this project, potentially saving face and reputation for future development in Lee’s Summit.

 

 

John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail jbeaudoin@lsjournal.com.

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