Rules may drive projects away

Tuesday, January 8, 2002

JACKSON, Mo. -- Developers hope the Jackson Board of Aldermen will temper proposals that would transfer to them some costs for infrastructure and inspections currently borne by the city.

At a public hearing Monday night on proposed revisions to the city's Land Use Regulations, some developers predicted that projects will begin moving outside the city limits if costs go up. One said the proposals could backfire years in the future when the city is forced to annex developments that have substandard infrastructures.

One of the most troubling proposals would give developers the responsibility of contracting with engineers to make inspections, a burden the city currently takes on. Rob Litzelfelner of Bent Creek Developments wondered how much time an engineer would be required to be on a job.

City administrator Jim Roach said the city staff wanted to leave that decision up to the individual developer.

Going into a project without knowing what the inspection costs will be is scary, one said.

Developer Jim Johannes asserts that certification by engineers is going to be expensive because they will be taking responsibility when they sign off on an inspection. He would rather see the inspections done by the city even if developers had to absorb some of the costs.

Developer Ron Clark wondered whether the city could return some of the costs to developers eventually in the form of tax breaks.

Concerned that most of the revisions add costs developers will have to pass along to home buyers, Litzelfelner attributed Jackson's tremendous growth over the past 20 years in part to the city's willingness to keep development costs down.

People could get more house for their money in Jackson, he said.

"That is gone," he said.

However, Litzelfelner said he will continue developing in the city.

Mayor Paul Sander said the board's dilemma is deciding whether developers, taxpayers or both should bear the costs and how much they should bear. He wants to take at least two study sessions to discuss the proposals before putting them to a vote before the board.

Traffic study

In other business, the city awarded to the St. Louis company of Crawford, Bunte, Brammeier a $100,000 contract to perform a citywide traffic study. The firm, the only bidder that specializes in transportation planning and traffic engineering in eastern Missouri, has been in the business 28 years.

The company will evaluate the city's chronic traffic problems and recommend both short-term and long-term solutions sometime next fall.

Awarding the contract is "one of the biggest things we will do this year," Sander said.

Alderman Dave Reiminger called it "the most exciting thing I've been part of since the Comprehensive Plan."

335-6611, extension 182

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