Lee's Summit Municipal Airport Improvements Require Voter Approval of Tax Levy

After years of debate, improvements for Lee's Summit Municipal Airport, including extending its runways, are on the city's five-year plan for capital improvements.

The Lee's Summit City Council's plan for financing the project's last phases includes a 1.5-cent property-tax levy, which would require voter approval. That would include lengthening the north-south runway from 4,000 to 5,500 feet.

Such an election hasn't been scheduled, and some council members oppose the plan for a tax increase, saying the city should finance the runway through other means.

Councilman Ron Williams noted that, with turnover on the council, the city could consider other directions in the future or change its plan for financing improvements.

But for the short-term, the city continues to take federal grants for land acquisition. It also is looking at building a control tower to blunt criticism from nearby neighborhoods, where some residents are irritated by noise from aircraft circling the airport.

The projected cost of essentially rebuilding the airport is $44 million, scaled down from previous proposals. The improvements call for moving the airport terminal, adding 330 acres and reconstructing runways. When finished, the airport would meet current safety standards and be better able to handle corporate jets.

About $4.6 million of local money would be needed, with the federal government covering the rest. The proposed tax, if enacted, would end when Lee's Summit covered its share.

Marion Business Park

The lack of vroom-vroom in the long-envisioned Marion Business Park isn?t because of an electrical problem or an empty gas tank. The issue seems to be one of ambivalence.

It's Bob Galamba?s job to market the approximately 75 acres that are encircled by U.S. 71, Bannister Road and Interstate 470. He's a senior vice president with Cohen-Esrey Real Estate Services. Ten parcels ranging from 2 to 14 acres are for sale.

The area is zoned for industrial or retail uses. The lots for sale are neighbors with the drug companies Sanofi-Aventis SA and Quintiles.

Master development plans for the area have come and gone, but currently there is none.

Although the land officially is for sale, Galamba said that Aventis, the owner, isn't pushing very hard to unload it. The company may decide to keep it as green space or to build an expansion on it. Or, maybe one day it'll sell.

Interstate 70 and Woods Chapel

Some people look at the intersection of Interstate 70 and Woods Chapel Road in Blue Springs and see frustration. Brien Starner sees opportunity.

"I look at it as an untapped resource," said the Blue Springs economic development director. "It's a great location, but the bottleneck has been getting enough federal and state funds to develop that interchange, similar to what has been done with the Missouri 7 and Adams Dairy Parkway interchanges."

Starner has been in his position less than a year, but he is well aware of past efforts to develop land around the interchange.

"There was a plan three or four years ago that called for a grocery store, retail and multifamily housing on a 33-acre site on the southwest corner of the interchange," he said. "The city was considering a transportation development district there. That plan ran into a number of issues, such as wetlands protection."

Starner is convinced that the tide is turning in favor of eventual development.

"Blue Springs is on the cusp of a significant growth cycle," he said. "There is strength in the financial markets and lower interest rates. There has been a growth of infrastructure in Independence directly east of Little Blue Parkway. These projects are at our doorstep, and Woods Chapel will pick up a lot of the traffic."

Improving the interchange will cost $15 million to $35 million, Starner estimated. Although a realistic time frame for development would be in about five years, "we expect to have something in terms of a series of proposals for that site in 12 to 18 months."

Starner is bullish on the site's long-term prospects.

"My view, based on my five or six months on the job, is that this community is in a position to experience residential and commercial growth the likes of which it hasn't seen for 25 or 30 years," he said.

The Plaza at Adams Farm

Blue Springs city officials are touting The Plaza at Adams Farm, a long-awaited project, as an anchor in the Adams Dairy Parkway corridor.

The 900,000 square-foot, $100-million-plus commercial development formerly known as Coronado Plaza is to be developed on 123 acres on the east side of Adams Dairy Parkway near Adams Pointe Golf Course.

Although City Council approval is pending, the project has received overwhelming support from civic and city leaders, as well as other residents. At a recent Planning Commission public hearing, supporters outnumbered opponents, a rare situation.

"I really believe that this project is a paradigm shift for development in this community," said Starner.

"What you saw was civic and business leaders taking ownership of the community. That has been a silent community for a long time. They now say we need to give the business community an opportunity to develop."

Developer Tom Dellaportas is pouring $85 million into the project, and the city is supplementing that with $30 million in tax-increment financing.

Former Blue Springs Mayor Greg Grounds, who is representing Dellaportas, said many national retail stores and more than a dozen restaurants have expressed interest in the proposed site.

Kansas City Star



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