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Council holds hearing on districts

Ward II Councilman Dale Wright, left, and Ward III Councilman Wayne Linnenbringer visit before the start of the Farmington City Council meeting.

Shawnna Robinson, Farmington Press

The Farmington City Council heard an update on the community’s Tax Increment Financing Districts during the Nov. 27 meeting.

There are two active TIF Districts in Farmington – Karsch Boulevard and Downtown Farmington district, implemented in 2004, and Highway 67 district, implemented in 2005.

Farmington City Administrator Greg Beavers spoke to the council during the hearing – a state statute requirement for the city to hold public hearings on the TIF Districts every five years.

Beavers said the TIFS were placed in a cycle where the hearings could be held concurrently. He noted reports on the two districts are filed annually with the Department of Revenue and can be viewed on the department’s website and online at farmington-mo.gov.

The Karsch Boulevard and Downtown Farmington district was started with the development of Lowe’s and was added to include the downtown area with the intent of generating future growth and stabilize the downtown area.

Projects identified at the start of that TIF project included the courthouse annex; fire station; library; street, water and sewer work; parking lots and architectural preservation – which was added to help developers in the restoration and preservation of downtown businesses.

The district has, according to the city administrator, done wonderful things for the downtown area on both the utility side and in the revitalization of buildings and aiding towards the construction of new facilities.

One of the first projects for the TIF was the property acquisition and demolition for the courthouse annex.

“That was the impetus for us doing the TIF to begin with,” Beavers told the council, explaining at the time, county officials were looking to locate the annex on property near the sheriff’s department on Doubet Road.

“We were concerned at the time that would be the beginning of the demise of downtown,” Beavers said, noting the businesses doing work with the offices at the annex would not be inclined to keep locations in the downtown area.

A portion of the TIF is also available for local developers to use in the restoration of businesses in downtown. Developers can apply for up to $50,000 for preservation activities specific to tuckpointing, building façade restoration and other structural improvements.

Among the projects receiving funds through the TIF include the ColJac Artisan Café and First Wok location, the Barbara Lee Apartment building which houses Dress 2 Impress, and the law offices of Joe Goff.

During the meeting, Beavers noted another application for funding through the TIF was received from Brian and Joan Hurst who purchased the building located at the corner of West Columbia Street and Jefferson Street – the former location of Oasis Christian Bookstore.

“I think it’s doing everything it was intended to do,” he said.

The planned TIF projects costs is $14.8 million. The TIF expires in 2027.

The second district is the Highway 67 district – located on the west side of the city – was established as a “blighted” area TIF.

The plans for the district were revised a few years ago after the original development plan for shopping centers by Gundacker Properties failed to come into fruition.

Since the developers never fulfilled what the agreement required them to do – developing major retailers during a period of time – they were ineligible to receive the money generated through the TIF.

During that time, the TIF District kept the money. Those funds are now being used to repair the roads in the area – as a part of the TIF deal.

The plan was amended in 2015 to drop the property on the west side of the highway in preparation for Menards coming to the area. The district now only includes what is currently developed on the east side of that original district.

The planned TIF project cost for this district costs is $6.3 million and expires in 2028.

In regular session, the committee reports were given. Ward I Councilman John Robinson presented the Public Safety report, noting the new K9 officer Ringo recently completed six weeks of training with his handler, Officer Josh Shearrer and is now at work.

Robinson also noted the committee is evaluating the supplemental body armor for the department – designed to absorb or deflect a rifle round – after a recent officer-involved shooting.

“We’ll need to revisit our budget – we just adopted the budget a few weeks back – and make sure we’ve got sufficient funds to make sure they’re all equipped with that,” Beavers said.

During the Public Works report, Ward IV Councilman Mark Kellogg said the city has placed a sign reminding motorist on Ste. Genevieve Avenue of the 25 MPH speed limit near St. Joseph Catholic School and St. Paul Lutheran School.

The council discussed possible options to alert motorists to slow down for the area in question – including the possible placement of flashing crossing warnings as used in other areas of town.

It was decided more study would be done on the area in question.

In legislative items, council approved an amendment to the municipal code for the following amendments to traffic control signs and parking:

No parking on the south side of Harrison Street from the intersection to the first driveway between Franklin and A Streets; along with no parking on A Street in front of the Farmington Public Library, the south side of the street in front of 745 Weber Road (Sonic) and on the south side of East First Street between South Washington Street and South Jackson Street.

One- and two-way traffic stop intersections are amended to add:

Parkland at Hazel; Oak Knoll at Black Oak; Oak Knoll at Bray; Oak Knoll and Moss; Moss at Black Oak; Centene at Progress; west bound Hazel Lane and Parkland Drive; Hidden Valley at Sunset; Middle at Pine, Huntleigh Court at Kimberly Court; Bayberry at Pine; North Jefferson Street at College Street; and Wallace Road westbound at the intersection of Weber Road.

Intersection codes at Showplace Drive and Holly Tree Lane, as well as Wallace Road and Weber Road will be deleted. A four-way intersection at Vandergriff and Pine will be added.

A first reading only was held on an ordinance which includes parking restrictions for parking lots owned by the city – with no parking from midnight to 6 a.m. to be added to the ordinance.

It was also announced filings open at 8 a.m. on Dec. 12 for the four council seats up in the April, 2018 municipal election. The seats up this year include those held by Cody Eaves in Ward I, Dale Wright in Ward II, Darrel Holdman in Ward III and Mark Kellogg in Ward IV. Filings close at 5 p.m. on Jan. 14.

Mayor Larry Forsythe made a motion to move the Dec. 25 meeting to Dec. 18, with unanimous approval. Council next meets in regular session on Dec. 14.

Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or srobinson@farmingtonpressonline.com

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Farmington Press Managing Editor

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