Belton begins economic development transition

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The Belton City Council covered a lot of ground during their June 11 meeting: recognizing local heroes; approving the economic development transition period; moving forward with the dog park; permitting the change in location for the Belton farmer’s market; and more.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council recognized some citizens’ lifesaving actions.

Sharon Smith, Kristen Stacy, and Jeff Cox were all instrumental in coming to the aid of a man in a health crisis at a local coffee shop recently. Smith and Stacy are nurses at Heartland Health and St. Luke’s East, respectively, and Cox is a Belton firefighter and paramedic. CPR was administered, and the patient was talking again by the time he was taken away in an ambulance. He was also present at the Council meeting to present certificates to the three local heroes.

“Everything just worked as the system’s designed to work,” remarked Fire Chief Steven Holle.

Council also congratulated Belton’s Chad Schneider for being named Cass County Fire Fighters Association’s Firefighter of the Year for 2013.

Tim Kuykendall of the Public Works Department was also recognized during the meeting. Kuykendall discovered a vehicle stalled in high water on Friday, May 31, and promptly helped the driver to safety.

Council unanimously passed the first reading for an amendment to the zoning map for a ten-acre tract on North Scott. The proposed amendment was for the zoning to change from R-3 (multi-family residential) to M-1 (light manufacturing) and C-2 (general commercial).

Curt and Marcia Cunningham, owners of Carriage Works, Inc., would like to establish their business at 401 North Scott, which is why the zoning amendment came before the Council.

“We keep coming back to Belton because we live here,” Curt Cunningham said.

The Council also approved a public service agreement with Belton Community Projects, Inc. (BCPI), in regard to the upcoming Community Days. This agreement provides for “reimbursement of up to $2,500 for a fireworks display and up to $2,500 for insurance.”

Council members also discussed and approved the first reading for a proposed off-leash dog park, “to be located off of Markey Road adjacent to Markey Park and Kuecker Enterprises.”

While some councilmen expressed issues with the location of the park, Councilman Chet Trutzel explained that the existing fence at the park is the driving issue, because it saves a lot of money.

Mayor Jeff Davis called the site an “eyesore” and a “blighted area,” suggesting that the dog park would help the area.

Ultimately, Council passed the measure with Councilmen Gary Lathrop and Tim Savage in opposition.

During the meeting, Council also approved the first reading of an ordinance which would adjust water and sewer rates as necessary, following the bonds approved by voters back in April.

Last week, Council decided against renewing the contract with the Belton Corporation for Economic Development (BCED) and move economic development to an in-house program. On Tuesday the contract with the BCED was officially extended by one month to allow for an “orderly transition.” The budget was amended accordingly to fund the $8,333 cost necessary for the extension.

Councilman Everett Loughridge suggested taking another look at the transition after 20 days to ensure it goes smoothly and to see if more time is necessary. Councilman Trutzel agreed, calling the transition a “big move for the City” and expressing a desire to make sure it is done right.

Council also discussed how Codes Enforcement is being transferred from the Community Development Department to the Police Department. Jay Leipzig, Director of Community Planning and Development, explained that they hope to accomplish that transition by June 17. This transfer will allow Leipzig’s department to spend more time on economic development.

Councilman Justin Neff spoke on behalf of the BCPI to request the use of a city-owned lot at Second Street and Herschel for the farmer’s market, beginning on June 20. The farmer’s market will run for a six-week trial period at that location. Council approved the request.

Neff, who was absent from the previous Council meeting, thanked the public, the people of his ward, and the mayor for supporting him while he was gone.

“I wasn’t able to attend because of a work event,” he explained, adding that “when tough issues pop up, I’ve never run from those in the past, I never will, and I didn’t this time.”

The meeting concluded with a report of the flooding issues that occurred at the end of May. Thirty-four customer concerns were reported to the City. Mayor Davis suggested that the City start collecting its own weather data, as Belton’s data often varies from what is reported on televised news.

Full agenda packets and meeting videos are available on the City of Belton website, http://www.belton.org.

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