Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Baldwin City Council Discusses Zoning and Buy Local

Kevin Surbaugh

The first city council meeting of 2017 was called to order at 7 P.M. on it's new Tuesday night. Council Members Kathy Gerstner and Steve Bauer was absent from the January 4, 2017 meeting.
 The council made quick work of resolution 2017-01, which renewed half price building permits for another year. Those present passed the years first resolution unanimously.
Under new business, the council discussed ordinance 1358, an ordinance the would clean up some language in the cities zoning regulations. One such change focuses on vehicle sales, which also was the main area of focus by those speaking on the topic. The change would lift the prohibition on car lots in Baldwin City.
Under Section 12-102 (1) (17) the Commission is proposing to delete the following portion of Code,
“Motor vehicle service and/or repair, not sales.”
Casey Simoneau said that as a community we don't have the luxury of Lawrence or Kansas City, to have businesses come knocking on the doors of the city. In his view, it is one more business in town and would hate to see the city stifle any business.
 Ed Courton, Baldwin City Economic Development Director, said that currently used car lots are prohibited.  The problem is an issue of balance, do we allow any business or do we limit them to protect property values.
City Finance Director, Brad Smith, mentioned that he is not sure the city would benefit from sales of used cars here. It his belief, which he prefaced that he may be wrong, that the sales tax would go to the community where the buyer resides. 
The discussion was then tabled to be taken up again at the next council meeting when all members would be present.
As the council was concluding and the staff was giving their staff reports, Smith brought forth discussion on a draft "Buy Local Policy."
A business is considered to be local when it has established a permanent place of
business within twenty miles of the Baldwin City limits for at least six months. The
place of business must be a physical facility and excludes a portion of a home or
apartment, motel rooms or post office boxes.
Dave Hill-America Bank, said that he really appreciates the city getting the buy local out. He believes, however, the twenty mile range is a bit of oversight. To him local would be those paying local sales tax. Those within twenty miles, would include Lawrence, Ottawa and Gardner. Those communities do not come here and pay sales tax.
Gary Lamoreux concurred, telling the council he doesn't expect the city to buy things he can't supply at prices he can't offer. However, he does want to be given the opportunity to sell to the city.
Council Member David Simmons addressed the twenty mile range. He believes it should be local. Relating it to a snow globe. As long as you shake up the globe, the snow (money) is spread out within the globe (community), but if you start taking some of that snow out, you have to figure out how to get it back into the globe.
He doesn't see any benefit to going outside of  Baldwin City to shop, even if it is only  twenty miles.  After hearing the comments, Smith said he would take those comments into account and bring a new version of the policy back to the council at a future meeting.

1 comment:

  1. Here are the answers to the “real” question about the Baldwin City Economic Development Corporation that weren’t asked or answered in the article.

    The BCEDC is a “private” entity. It is owned by private individuals. It’s membership just happens to be mostly people who participate in “business ventures” together as a group or funnel business to each other in town.

    What isn’t mentioned are all the businesses in Baldwin City who refuse to join the organization or those that have asked that their names be removed from any membership listing in the past 3 years. Why are substantial, well-known financial institutions and businesses missing or removed from the membership list?

    The BCEDC exists mainly to enhance the business activities and profitability of the small list of interconnected members of the corporation.

    Taxpayers should NOT be sending $15,000 of city budget money to pay salaries for the BCEDC. No one I’ve encountered knew this was happening and when they learn of it they become extremely angry.

    Fifteen thousand dollars taken from the city utility department budget to pay for the BCEDC staff at a time when utility costs are rapidly increasing to pay for a new maintenance building.

    The last thing Baldwin City needs is a “used car lot” along Highway 56. The city has enough problems with poorly kept properties on the highway and in residential parts of town. Selective enforcement of city codes has left some areas of the city looking like inner-city ghettos. Finally, city staff seems to agree on a topic with residents.

    The “real” story here is the insider, crony dealings being facilitated with taxpayer’s money and facilitated by elected city officials.


The Baldwin City Gazette welcomes your comments, as long as they are on topic and remain respectful to others. Please no anonymous comments. Comments containing advertising will be marked as spam, this includes links.