One of Raytown’s premier gateways to the city is located at 63rd Street and Blue Ridge Cutoff. From there 63rd Street takes a path due east to the western city limits, two miles away. It passes through neighborhoods with well kept homes. Blue Ridge Elementary School is the only break of the residential flavor of the street until it enters Downtown Raytown. Once through the Downtown, 63rd Street continues through more residential neighborhoods until it terminates on Woodson Road.
Soon, what is now a relaxing drive through the heart of Raytown will be blighted by commercial development. A small retail outlet (Dollar General) is to be built just east of Blue Ridge Elementary Grade School.
It is located in the middle of residentially zoned neighborhood. It will bring increased traffic and commercial operating hours to a peaceful neighborhood.
The die for this blight was cast when the majority of the Raytown Board of Aldermen took a long drink from the Development Kool Aid Cup and voted to approve the zoning change in the middle of a residential neighborhood to commercial use.
The only caveat the neighborhood had was the agreement between the city and developer to build residential housing along with the retail outlet.
Now that part of the deal seems to be slipping away.
At its last meeting Ward 5 Alderman Eric Teeman questioned the attorney representing the developer why plans presented to the Board of Alderman did not include plans for housing along with the commercial development.
It was, after all, what had been agreed upon when the change from residential to commercial zoning was approved.
. . . and Dance!
The attorney for the developer assured the Board those plans would come later.
After a flurry of letters between Mayor Mike McDonough and residents of the neighborhood took place last week, some wonder if the houses will be built as promised.
In his letter to neighborhood representatives, McDonough assured them the houses would be built.
One sentence in his letter is disturbing.
The Mayor wrote, “As the homes have not yet been designed or assigned to a potential buyer, they are not present on the plan.”
If what the Mayor writes is true, there are no plans. All is contingent on a potential buyer purchasing a lot and agreeing to build a home on it.
As one nearby homeowner questioned . . . “how many potential buyers will want to buy a lot and build a home next door to a Dollar General?”
The developer has had since last February . . . over half a year . . . to get his ducks in a row to fulfill the commitment agreed upon between him and the city.
This whole deal is beginning to sound reminiscent of the Walmart fiasco on 350 Highway. Readers will remember the mantra, “if you build it they will come”. The new shopping district promised to follow in the footsteps of the 350 Walmart has yet to materialize. That promise was made over ten years ago.
The Board of Aldermen is made up of some smart people. Let’s hope they are smart enough to learn from mistakes of the past.
The lesson they should have learned was . . . A vague promise of future development is not enough.
The Board should insist the developer move forward with the promised housing projects before the commercial property is licensed and allowed to open. To give the decision some teeth, they should write that provision into the legislation by amendment and vote to approve it.
After all, it is what was agreed upon when they approved the zoning back in February.
As elected representatives of the neighborhood surrounding they owe it to the long time homeowners on 63rd Street to uphold the agreement.
|BY PAUL LIVIUS|
This will be a first for me. Last week, Bob Phillips of the Raytown Times wrote a short piece on the proposed 25% pay increase packages for elected officials in Raytown.
He said it so well, why try to improve it?
BOB WROTE . . .
“Are you kidding me? Is the elected marshal/appointed chief of police really worth $114,000 a year?
He is already being paid more than $96,000 a year, the highest paid city marshal in the state. That is a lot of money for a guy who is mostly a figurehead. Some city administrators don’t make that kind of money.
That’s the recommendation of the Elected Officials Compensation Committee, and its report will be before the Board of Aldermen on September 6. The committee also suggested a hefty raise for the Municipal Judge and an extra $100 a month for aldermen.
For a city that claims it’s pinching pennies, those are pretty hefty increases. I guess tightening the budget only applies to the people who really do the work.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Aldermen went over the committee’s recommendations and then said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Well said, Mr. Phillips!
THE RAYTOWN BOARD OF ALDERMEN WILL BE DISCUSSING AND VOTING ON THESE TWO ISSUES (Dollar General and the proposed Public Officials Salary Increase) AT TUESDAY NIGHT’S MEETING (SEPT. 6, 2016).
THE MEETING BEGINS AT 7:00 P.M.
THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO ADDRESS THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MEETING DURING PUBLIC COMMENTS.
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