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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • City will have to try annexation vote again

  • Wellington city council voted 3-2 to annex a piece of land southeast of Walmart at its meeting this week. A developer hopes to develop an apartment complex there, and get some city incentives to help with the development.
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  • Wellington city council voted 3-2 to annex a piece of land southeast of Walmart at its meeting this week.  A developer hopes to develop an apartment complex there, and get some city incentives to help with the development.
    City officials later realized they had made a procedural error, and the vote is not valid. An ordinance requires a majority of the entire council, which is four votes. Council member Kelly Green was not there because of an illness.
    According to a press release sent out by the city, the mayor could have cast the fourth vote. When the roll call vote was called, the mayor was not called on to vote, which should have happened.
    As a result the ordinance is not valid, and will be put on the agenda again at the Dec. 3 meeting.
    The land in question is an 11-acre parcel.
    At the meeting city administrator Gus Collins said the vote was only for annexation, and the city would have to approve the project itself at a later date. He wanted to get the vote taken in order to get the incentives in place in time for the developer.
    He said the city would not be paying anything, and would recoup tax breaks and cost of infrastructure through a special property tax assessment.
    “It is a significant development. All we are doing tonight is annexing. I think it is an opportunity for the city to move forward,” Collins said.
    Councilman John Tracy voted against the measure, along with councilman Jim Valentine.
    Tracy said the city has been involved in this type investment in the past and it has not turned out well.
    He said three developers have tried this in recent years, and that has left the city on the hook for “several hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
    One has done well, he said, and one totally defaulted and the third one is still trying to rent all its apartments.
    “The Housing Development Incentives provide for the City (taxpayer) to pay for the infrastructure, then recoup their investment through special assessment property taxes.  The theory is that the developer has less money invested and can sell the lots cheaper, making them more attractive to buyers.  And while this theory looks good on paper, it doesn't have a very good track record,” Tracy said.
    Councilman John Brand voted for the ordinance, saying “you can’t be scared to move forward. Just because it hasn’t worked in the past, doesn’t mean it wont work.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Council members Jan Korte and Vince Wetta also voted for the ordinance.

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