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Planning Commission approves first step toward Compass Point

Commissioners vote 4-0 on Nov. 14 to accept preliminary plat for 54 houses

City of Arkansas City logoThe Arkansas City Planning Commission voted 4-0 on Nov. 14 to approve a preliminary plat of Compass Point Addition, a new housing subdivision.

If the project moves forward, it could result in 54 new homes, targeted to moderate-income families, being constructed west of MeadowWalk Apartments and south of Skyline Road on about 11 acres of land.

The commissioners approved the plat after a public hearing — during which no opposition was heard — that included a question-and-answer session with Kirk Miller, an engineer for Compass Point LLC.

The public hearing was held in the commission room at City Hall, 118 W. Central Ave.

This was the first step in a process that will unfold over several future meetings of both the City Commission and Planning Commission.

The next step will be to finalize the plat, possibly in December, after feedback from the City’s Technical Advisory Committee is taken into account by the developer.

Special assessments to reimburse the City for utility improvements will have to go before the City Commission.

The final steps that will have to occur are for roughly half of the addition to be voluntarily annexed into the City and rezoned as R-2 (Medium-Density Residential District), pending a land sale from Ark City Industries to Compass Point LLC. These also will have to be approved by the City Commission.

This announcement caused a few chuckles for some commissioners, since they had decided in late 2015 to rezone the north half of the property from R-1 (Low-Density Residential District) to C-2 (Restricted Commercial District) to allow self-storage units there — but that planned project never did materialize.

After Principal Planner Josh White mentioned the proposed R-2 zoning would conform to the goals of the Future Land Use Plan, Commissioner Charles Jennings said the land should not have been rezoned.

“I now understand why (staff) measured arm length — I’m too far away for any of you to smack me when I give ... an ‘I told you so,’” joked Jennings, who had an empty seat between him and the nearest planning commissioner on the dais, “because I think I voiced some concerns about us moving away from the Future Land Use Plan ... that zoned this residential, and then we went to commercial.

“And now we want to go back to the well-conceived (Future Land Use) plan. So let the record reflect just one quick ‘I told you so,’ and now we’ll move on.”

Jennings served on the broad-based, citizen-led steering committee that drafted the newest version of the City’s Comprehensive Plan — including the Future Land Use Plan — in 2013. It later was adopted in 2014 by the Planning Commission and City Commission. He was vocally against the rezoning in 2015.

Jennings also expressed concerns about the stormwater impact of the new subdivision, but Miller reassured him that a preliminary study had been performed that indicates how the new excess runoff can be kept on the property using retention areas and diverted off site through an existing drainage route.

Another stormwater assessment will be performed later in the process to ensure that still is the case.

The development will have two north-south streets, 10th and 11th, as well as an east-west drive on the south side of the addition, to be named later. (The first name proposed already exists within the City.)

Jennings asked about improvements to Skyline Road, west of the proposed development.

White said the original intent was to de-annex that section to Cowley County, in exchange for the improved section of 61st Road, but admitted that future development to the west might drive a need for further improvements.

Commissioner Gordon Fry asked if a sewer lift station is needed to serve the new housing area. Miller said he did not think so.

Sewer will be tied in from Eighth Street, south of MeadowWalk Apartments.

White said no difficulty is expected in extending any utilities to the housing development. He thinks Compass Point will appeal to employees of nearby industries such as Creekstone, KanPak and Skyline.

Once discussion ended, Fry made a motion to approve the preliminary plat. His motion was seconded by Commissioner Mary Benton, and also approved by Jennings and Commissioner Scott Rogers.

Commissioner Mike Munson abstained from voting because he is on the board for Ark City Industries, which currently is negotiating a contract for the sale of the south property to Compass Point.

Planning Commissioners Albert Brown, Andy Paton, Chris Tackett and Brian Wells all were absent.

In other business, the commissioners heard a presentation from Tom Langer, City-Cowley County Health Department administrator, regarding the recent activities of the RISE Cowley health coalition.

They also approved the Sept. 12 minutes. The meeting began at 5:30 p.m. and adjourned at 6:22 p.m.