Memorandum

City of Lawrence

 

TO:

Tom Markus, City Manager

FROM:

Charles Soules, Director of Public Works

DATE:

10/02/2018

RE:

Queens Road Public Hearing Date Resolution

 

Background

New subdivisions and multi-dwelling unit projects rarely create enough demand by themselves to require building all of the streets in the street network necessary to support them as a new area of the city urbanizes.  Therefore, new developments are often required only to build the streets minimally necessary to provide access, but with the understanding that the development will need to contribute to the greater street network as developments accumulate and greater demand is placed on the surrounding network. 

 

To address this, the city requires new subdivisions to be served, at the developer’s expense per the city’s development policy, with a planned street network that may be a temporary solution until the ultimate planned street network can be financed and constructed.  Direct access to the identified streets is not made for every new lot and may not be made for any new lot based on access management standards, but the new lots in an area will use all of the street network over time, and thus are responsible for paying the cost of both the temporary and ultimate planned street network.

 

When enough development in an area triggers the need to complete the street network, those streets can be constructed with benefit district financing (special assessments) and all developments approved over time then contribute to completing the street network.  For certain major streets, the city at large pays for extra amenities such as recreation path, bicycle amenities, etc.

 

Much of Lawrence has developed in this fashion given the history of developing new areas in smaller pieces compared to the development practices of some other cities. In this sense, Queens Road is not unique.  Development in the vicinity of Queens Road and along the related road network has persisted and now the demand is very high to complete the construction of Queens Road.  Queens Road is necessary to complete the street network in this area to offer alternative transportation routes to properties in the area, as well as improve emergency vehicle assess to properties in the area. 

 

Kansas Law on Benefit Districts

Benefit districts are a common and legal option for cities/developers to provide infrastructure to an urbanizing area.  Below is a brief summary of certain legal considerations involved in the governing body’s creation of a benefit district.

·         The statute (KSA 12-6a01 et seq.) defines “improvement district” as “an area deemed by the governing body to be benefitted by an improvement and subject to special assessment for all or a portion of the cost of the improvement.”  (KSA 12-6a01(f))

 

·         A governing body is vested with broad discretion in establishing an improvement district, and its determination is not subject to review in the absence of showing fraudulent or arbitrary conduct.  (Giddings v. City of Pittsburg, 421 P.2d 181)

 

·         Assessments must impose a substantially equal burden of the costs of the improvement upon property within the improvement district that is similarly benefitted (KSA 12-6a08(a))

 

·         If property that does not abut a proposed street improvement is included in the benefit district, then property abutting such improvement must be included in the district (Kansas Attorney General Opinion No. 2000-13)

 

·         Property situated similarly to other properties that are included in the improvement district must be deemed benefitted (Kansas Attorney General Opinion No. 2000-13)

 

·         Current use of the land may not be considered when determining whether a particular property benefits from an improvement.  Property must be included in an improvement district when the land is benefitted for any purpose.  (Board of Ed. of USD 345 v. City of Topeka, 522 P.2d 982)

 

While Lawrence has a long history of using this financing mechanism for building infrastructure, the following specific areas are more recent examples of using special benefit district financing:

 

1.       O’Connell Road – from 23rd south to 27th Street

2.       George Williams Way – north and south of 6th Street

3.       Stoneridge Drive – north and south of 6th

4.       Folks Road south of 6th Street

5.       Overland drive

6.       6th & Congressional intersection

7.       Yankee Tank Estates (Kasold on the curve)

 

 

The Proposed Benefit Districts

The City Commission has received public comment on the formation of the benefit districts for Queens Road and the formation of a benefit district for intersection improvements at 6th and Queens Road on three separate occasions: June 6, 2017, May 1, 2018, and September 4, 2018.

 

There are two benefit districts being considered. One benefit district will finance the improvements to Queens Road from 6th Street to Eisenhower Drive, and the other will finance the intersection and signalization improvements at 6th Street and Queens Road.

 

At the City Commission meeting on September 4, 2018, staff presented three options for the commission’s consideration.  After reviewing public comment and City Commission discussion, the commission provided direction to proceed with option 1, increasing the City’s share by $290,000 for Queens Road and establishing October 2, 2018 for a public hearing on the formation of the benefit districts.

 

The notice of the public hearing was published in the Journal World and notice sent to all property owners within the proposed benefit districts. 

 

Following are the project and benefit district summaries.

 

Project Summary

QUEENS ROAD

SIGNALIZATION OF 6TH STREET

Project Description

Construction of Queens Road from 6th Street to Eisenhower Drive

-        2-lane road with median and turn lane at Fort Benton Drive

-        Roundabout at Overland Drive

-        Bike lanes

Sidewalk/multi-use path

-        Signalization of intersection

-        Mast arms, signals

-        Controller box

-        Pedestrian crossing ADA ramps

-        Pre-emption and video detection equipment

Pavement markings

Estimated Cost

$4,830,760

$450,000

Method of Assessment

Equally per square footage

Equally per square footage

Apportionment of Costs

100% of costs assessed to Benefit District except City will pay for additional street width for bike lanes (estimate $226,000) and additional width for multi-use path (estimate $122,250), for a total City contribution of approximately $348,250.  The City will also contribute an additional $290,000 bringing the total City share to $638,250. Total to be assessed is $4,192,510.00.

100% Benefit District ($450,000),

0% City at Large.

 

 

 

Other Information

The City Commission has reviewed the following options:

 

-        A sliding scale that would decrease the percentage of participation as you move further away from Queens Road.  This would increase the proportionate share of those properties that are closest to the road. (5/1/18)  (video)

 

-        Assessing a higher percentage for increased density of an area.  Assessments must impose a substantially equal burden of the cost of the improvement upon property within the improvement district that is similarly benefitted, regardless of the current use of the property.  (5/1/18)

 

-        Alternative method of assessment such as appraised value.  We looked at a small-scale test run of assessing properties based on appraised value using the County’s website for land values.  Based on a handful of randomly selected lots, residential land owners would pay a higher assessment using this method (as compared to the Links Development would pay a lower amount).  (5/1/18)

 

-        Increasing the benefit district area, Option #2, presented September 4, 2018, this option increased the area to be assessed to include additional commercial properties but also nearly doubled the number of residential lots in the benefit district area.  Additionally, the multiuse properties, in the original benefit district areas, estimated assessments were less due to the enlarged footprint.  (9/4/18)   (video)

 

-        Increasing the City’s contribution, Option 3, to the cost of the improvements thereby reducing the costs to be assessed.  (9/4/18)

 

-        Agreements not to protest the formation of a benefit district for improvements to Queens Road for the following areas are provided:

 

o   Parkwest, dated May 14, 2002, signed by owner Michael Stulz and Mayor Sue Hack

o   Overland Pointe, dated June 18, 2004, signed by owner Roger Morningstar and Mayor Mike Rundle

o   Links, dated September 13, 2016, signed by owner James Lindsey and Mayor Mike Amyx

o   Kellyn Addition, dated August 6, 2015, signed by owner Timothy Stultz and Mayor Mike Amyx

o   Seventh Day Adventist Church, dated February 24, 2005, signed by owner Jim Glass and Mayor Mike Rundle

o   Westwood Hills, dated November 7, 2000, signed by owner John Bush and Mayor James Henry

-        Links Development is contributing $1,239,885 for the Queens Road benefit district (approximately 25%) and $115,702 for the 6th and Queens Intersection Improvement (approximately 26%).

 

-        City participation is $638,250 or approximately 13% of the total cost.

 

-        Commercial Development/multi-family will be assessed approximately 67%.

 

-        Owner occupied single family property will be assessed approximately 20%.

 

-        The City is working with the owner of 1677 E 1000 Road on an agreement that would not require annexation and would defer the assessment to the property for 10 years or upon platting or development. 

 

o   The City will need to acquire a pedestrian easement.  Upon receipt of the agreement, staff will require the County to pass a resolution consenting to the construction by the City within the County.  The agreement will be placed on a future agenda for City Commission approval.

 

-        On August 2, 2016, the City Commission approved hiring BG Consultants to complete the design of Queens Road and the intersection improvements at 6th Street and Queens Road.  Project plans are 90% complete.  (8/2/16)

 

-        The construction of bike lanes on Queens Road was included in the project summary describing the improvements at the City Commission meeting on June 6, 2017. Queens Road was classified as a future bike lane from 6th Street to Wakarusa Drive in the Countywide Bike Plan approved by the MPO Policy Board on March 20, 2014.