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COUNCIL MEETING 08/29/16 (R2 Permit Fees/Sidewalk, Solar Farm, Cultural Corner Parklet, City Boards, Hedrick Parking Lot & Runoff Issues, Police Hires)

Council Waives R-2 Permit Fees; Denies Request to Omit Sidewalk

Chillicothe City Council members unanimously approved the Chillicothe R-2 School District's request to waive permit fees for building a new elementary school but voted 3-2 to decline the district's request to forego constructing a city-required sidewalk along a new road leading to the new school building. The school administration made both requests to the city after learning that an error by the district's architect firm would increase construction costs $2 million to $3 million over what was anticipated when district voters approved a $14.5 million bond levy in April. The school district asked city officials to waive building permit fees for the construction of the new elementary school and other related projects associated with the April 2016 voter-approved bond issue. Waiving of the building permit fees would produce a cost savings to the district of at least $36,600 for construction of the building, according to the school district. Dr. Roger Barnes, superintendent of schools, told council members during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall that funds from the bond issue will also be used to construct a connecting hallway between buildings at the middle school and re-roof the high school. Fourth Ward Councilman Paul Howard advocated for granting the school district's request to waive the fees, and the council members were unanimous in their decision. Howard stated that the city has asked support from Barnes in the past when prospective companies have come to Chillicothe and part of the incentive package for them locating in Chillicothe includes not paying taxes. "How many times have we gone to Mr. Barnes and he has said, 'We don't have a problem with that because you are bringing business to town,'" Howard stated. "I think it's time we step up and it goes the opposite way." Although the council supported waiving the permit fees for projects associated with the bond issue, the council voted 3-2 against the district's request to be excused from building a sidewalk next to the new road that will be constructed leading from U.S. Highway 65 to the new elementary school building that will be constructed in 2016-17 north of the high school. City codes require sidewalks to be placed along newly-constructed streets. Barnes stated that there currently is not a city sidewalk for the new sidewalk to connect to, thus the new sidewalk would exit onto Highway 65. "If we put a sidewalk along there, I could foresee some safety issues with there not being a sidewalk that it would exit onto," Barnes stated. "For instance, if a family felt like they didn't want to get tangled up in all the traffic unloading their children, and they felt they would just stop along the edge and drop them off at the sidewalk, then they are actually stopping on Highway 65 and that would not be good." Councilman Reed Dupy stated that waiving the request to not require sidewalk construction next to the new road would set a bad precedent. Dupy, Wayne Cunningham, and Tom Douglas voted against the request; and Councilmen David Moore and Paul Howard voted in favor of the request.

City Hires 2 Police Officers

Two police officers have been employed by the city council following recommendation from the Chief of Police Rick Knouse and City Administrator Ike Holland at the council's regular meeting Monday evening. Chief Knouse said that Jon C. Maples was returning to his former position of detective after a short stay as chief of police of the Hamilton Police Department. Maples will begin work here on September 12, 2016. The second officer employed is Jeremiah Grider of Cameron, Missouri. Grider has been with the Excelsior Springs police department where he was Narcotics Officer and a member of the Clay County Drug Task Force. He formerly was a Military Police Officer with the U. S. Army and with the Cameron Police Department. He will begin work September 12, 2016. Knouse said the hiring of the two officers will bring the department within one of capacity. The two officers were hired by the city council on unanimous votes.

City OKs Solar Farm Agreement, Gives Nod for Parklet Placement

Chillicothe City Council members unanimously approved an interconnect agreement with MC Power and Chillicothe Municipal Utilities for a solar farm during their regular meeting at City Hall Monday evening. A solar farm is being proposed for a 23-acre site located south of East Third Street and east of Mitchell Avenue. MC Power seeks to install photovoltaic solar panels at the site to generate electricity that will go into the CMU electric distribution system. Projections indicate that enough power could be generated through the Chillicothe solar farm to provide power for approximately 300 homes, according to Jim Gillilan, CMU general manager. The power generated through the solar farm would be blended with other resources in the electric distribution system.

In other business Monday evening, council members gave their nod of approval for Main Street Chillicothe to place a cedar parklet in front of Cultural Corner Art Guild and Gallery, 424 Locust Street, to provide additional outdoor seating. Micah Landes, director of Main Street Chillicothe, presented the proposal to council members during their regular meeting. The organization has the opportunity to add more seating after recently winning a $4,500 cedar parklet during the Main Street state conference in Washington, Mo. The parklet measures 16 feet by 8 feet and would extend the sidewalk outward to provide seating. Although it is portable, the parklet would remain in place through much of the year and be removed during winter. Landes stated that the Art Guild and Gallery would welcome the addition. She noted, however, that the Art Guild and Gallery plans to create a permanent sidewalk "bump-out" at which time Main Street would look for a different venue for the parklet. The council approved the request by granting an encroachment permit.

Also Monday, council members unanimously approved Mayor Chuck Haney's recommendation of four people to city boards. The mayor appointed the following individuals: Eva Danner Horton, replacing Gary Miller, who had reached term limits after serving 2 1⁄ 2 terms on the Housing Authority Board; Matt Lent and Ben Vance, replacing Gene Moyers and Don Overton, who both reached term limits on the Planning and Zoning Board; Danny Gramenz, replacing Mel Gregg, who reached term limits on the Railroad Board.

The council on Monday also approved moving the Monday, September 12, council meeting to Thursday, September 8, due to scheduling conflicts with the Missouri Municipal League which will have its conference during the week of September 12.

The council also discussed and gave approval for St. Luke's to fix storm erosion and runoff issues at Hedrick Medical Center and to add a new parking lot at the hospital that would provide 61 additional parking spaces.

Mayor Chuck Haney presided over Monday night's meeting with the full council present. An executive session, closed to the public, followed the regular meeting at which time the council voted to hire two individuals. Further details were unavailable as of press time.

HMC to Expand Parking

Hedrick Medical Center will soon expand its parking lot to meet the needs of current and projected growth. Hospital CEO Steven Schieber made a formal request on behalf of the hospital to city council members during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. Under the operating agreement with Hedrick Medical Center, the city must grant approval before changes are made to the hospital facility and grounds. "With the number of people coming in - not only from Chillicothe but the surrounding area - we are at a point where we are often nearly out of parking spaces," Schieber told the council. The additional parking lot is estimated to be approximately 175 feet by 122 feet and will be concrete. The expanded parking area will be placed northwest of the emergency department entrance. "The expanded parking will be used as both employee and public overflow and has become a necessity with the current and projected growth of services and staff," Schieber said. There currently are 317 hospital employees and 346 total parking spaces. The new parking area will add 61 spaces. HMC will provide funds for the project. Since it will be on city-owned property, this project will be carried on the books as a leasehold improvement. The CEO stated that HMC understands that the expanded parking and paved areas will be an integral part of the hospital and will become property of the city should the lease be terminated.

Also during Monday's meeting, the council approved Schieber's request to take storm water pollution prevention steps to address erosion and runoff control issues at the hospital. Storm water control features and structures will be placed at various strategic locations that have exhibited erosion and runoff control issues, Schieber said. The Department of Natural Resources branch in Macon has reviewed the plans submitted by HMC to design all areas to meet the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan standards and functional use. "Each feature, structure and measure installed will provide a well thought out and highly-functional means of slowing and regulating the runoff and will add to the general aesthetics of campus in the process," Schieber said. HMC will provide funding for this project.

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