Contract for housing project approved on Midtown lot

The City of Sabetha has agreed to enter into a contract with Jadwin Construction, who has the intent to build a housing complex on the old Midtown lot. This decision came after the commissioners voted 3-2 to enter into the contract during their regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 22, at Sabetha City Hall. 

Present for the meeting were Mayor Doug Clark, Commissioners Norm Schmitt, Nick Aberle, Maridel Wittmer and Julie Burenheide, City Administrator Doug Allen, Assistant City Administrator Bill Shroyer, and City Clerk Steve Compo. Guests present were Cory Jadwin, Keith Marvin, Cody Bletscher, and Sabetha High School juniors Kirsten Hartter and Carly Hartter.

Midtown Lot Project

With preliminary plans for the housing complex in front of the commission, Mayor Clark opened the discussion by asking Allen if the Midtown lot had been opened up to everyone who was interested in buying the land and building on it.

“We didn’t advertise or anything,” Allen said. “We discussed in a meeting that someone would have to come in with a plan and direction, if they wanted to do something, and we would look at them as they came in.”

“This is the first that has come in with a plan?” Clark said.

“We had one that talked about a retail store there, but we turned it down,” Allen said. “This is the first housing one we’ve had.”

“That was going to be my question, because I’ve had a couple of inquiries about what we were going to do with this ground and we had not really opened it up at any time or given a price of what we wanted for it,” Burenheide said. “I believe one of them had talked to Bill [Shroyer]. So, I was just wondering, were we not going to open it up for everybody?”

“Well, the fear was we didn’t want to just open it up for someone to buy the land, we wanted something to go on it,” Allen said.

Wittmer asked Jadwin about his “plan of attack” for the project.

“How soon do you plan to start? Who’s your contractor and how soon do you think it will be done?” Wittmer said.

“Well, it all depends. It could go to a year, to a year and a half, right now, it’s in the architectures hands,” Jadwin said. “If this is approved, the architect will start the floor plans. Then, I’ll start soliciting bids. Hopefully late spring, early summer, start on it [the project]. That will also hopefully get the lumber costs down.”

However, Jadwin said he is a “little concerned” about settlement, since there was a building there prior. 

“I know there was a building there once before and it got demoed, and it sat open for a while and then they backfilled,” Jadwin said. “So, there are some compaction efforts, I do have a little concern on. So, whether I have to employ a soils engineer to come in and evaluate that before I put any kind of structure on it, and being that these are housing, I’m still trying to keep these affordable. If I’m going to spend $15,000 to $20,000 on a soils engineer on top of the proposed price, then I may have to look somewhere different to keep the costs affordable.”

“Let me make sure I understand this,” Clark said. “You don’t know for sure if you’re going to proceed with the project because there are some unknowns that need to be investigated first like the soil, like what it’s actually going to cost you to build them? Is that correct?”

Jadwin said depending on the designs and how the settlement on the property looks in the early spring, he could take his designs and go elsewhere in town to build, if the Midtown lot doesn’t work out.

Allen said the commission needed to make a decision tonight before Jadwin started “spending cash” on the project.

“The only thing is for him to take the next step, he is going to have to start spending cash, so to be fair to him, if we’re not ready for him, we need to tell him now, and if you guys don’t feel comfortable, we can move it back, but it’s just going to move the project back, but that’s fine too. But, we have to be able to tell him tonight.”

The commissioners discussed possible contract details, which included timeline and price.

Allen said after speaking with a realtor, they believed the City could get $30,000 for the Midtown lot, which Jadwin said he was willing to put 50 percent down on the property.

Aberle said he didn’t see why the city needed to rush into a contract.

“I don’t see why we rush into a contract tonight, when this is the first [person approaching the city with a project]. I like your plan, but I also know that there’s people that are uninformed. It’s kind of like when we tore down the other building [Midtown]. You can rush things all you want but all you’re going to do is cause confusion. When we tore down midtown and worked our way through that process for demolition, it ended up being the right thing, but we just did it on a whim just like the day we changed the stop signs, and then changed our mind again. It causes confusion.”

Wittmer said she thought if anyone was interested in the property, they would have come forward already.

Burenheide agreed with Aberle saying she has had other people interested in the property talk with her about when it was going to be available.

“They have talked to Bill, they’ve talked to me about it,” Burenheide said. “They have been interested and they’ve inquired. I have had more than one or two people but we have not mentioned it [the lot being for sale] during a meeting.”

Schmitt and Wittmer asked what the plans were that had been brought to Burenheide.

“They have plans, but they needed to know when it’s going to open up and when they could come and discuss, but we never put it out there,” Burenheide said.

“Nobody ever said it was closed,” Schmitt said. “It doesn’t make any sense. They see the lot. They know it’s there. That’s a pretty lame excuse.”

“If we can’t tell citizens what’s going on, what are we good for?” Burenheide said.

As tempers rose between the commissioners, Clark asked what the solution could be. 

Aberle suggested giving the public until the first meeting in January 2022 to approach the city with an idea if they are interested. Then, at that time the City could proceed with the best idea. 

“I’m not saying your’s [Cory’s] is not the best choice, I’m just saying it just seems like we haven’t done due process on it,” Aberle said. “I’m not prepared to vote in favor with this being the first project. We wouldn’t have the blow back afterwards.”

“I’m with Nick [Aberle],” Burnheide said. “I don’t think we have done due process on it either.”

“Well, it does have an advantage that no one else is interested other than you [Cory], but if we have someone else interested, then we have to deal with that,” Clark said. “You can still talk to your architect, because you’re going to build it someplace. Let’s set a date. So, the first meeting in January. Does anybody object to that?”

Jadwin reiterated that if the Midtown property didn’t work out there are other options he could proceed with. 

“I am very much in favor of what you’re doing,” Wittmer said. “If Sabetha doesn’t grow, we’re going to die and we don’t want to do that. There is very much a need for housing. I think it’s an ideal place. I personally feel like if someone was interested in that land they would have been jumping sideways and eager. I think you should go ahead. That’s my feelings on it.”

“Do you want to make that a motion?” Schmitt said.

“Yes, I make a motion that we proceed with the project,” Wittmer said.

The motion passed 3-2 with Schmitt, Clark and Wittmer in favor. Aberle and Burenheide were opposed.

“We will get a contract drawn up and work with Cory [Jadwin] on a contract with the stipulations you talked about and bring it back to the next meeting and you guys can look at it and see if it’s what you agree to,” Allen said.

Zoning Regulations

Marvin was present to discuss the updated zoning plan with the commissioners. 

“One thing to reiterate, this is basically a text amendment,” Marvin said. “The only thing on the map that has changed is some of the districts in and around town. The three mile [extraterritorial district] stayed the same as it was when I walked in here. Just to reemphasize some of that information.”

“So the intent of this change, is just to update some of the wording?” Clark said.

“Clean it up and get some of the newer things that have happened in the federal side and the state side and make sure they are all in there,” Marvin said. “We’ve reorganized a little bit. I like to think it is a little bit more user friendly.”

Aberle asked Marvin multiple questions regarding the zoning plan presented. Questions included clarification in the “Definitions” section regarding animal units and non-conforming lots. Aberle also asked questions about the zoning administrator, agriculture, residential living and cover crops.

Following questions with Marvin, the commissioners approved Ordinance No. 1571. See the ordinance on Page 6 of this week’s Herald. 

Also at the meeting:

The commissioners approved the minutes from the Monday, Nov. 8, meeting.

The commissioners approved Ordinance No. 1572 for the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency (KMEA) Membership. See the ordinance on Page 6 of this week’s Herald. 

The commissioners approved Resolution 2021-23, which accepts the KMEA By-laws.

They also approved Resolution No. 2021-24, which is the annual G.A.A.P. Waiver. 

They also approved a Cereal Malt Beverage License Renewal for Casey’s, Pizza Hut, Garrett Country Mart, All Star and Dollar General.

The commissioners will meet again at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, at Sabetha City Hall.

Heather Stewart195 Posts

Heather Stewart is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. She specializes in court and sports reporting, as well as photography. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.

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