Board of Aldermen approve court ruling, purchase

Long-sought-after development east of Interstate 29 may be closer than ever with Platte City’s move this week to acquire property at the intersection of I-29 and Highway HH. 

The Board of Aldermen Tuesday evening unanimously approved the judgment of $1.3 million for the 38.66 acres of the Wilson Trust property. The City will deposit funds with the Platte County Circuit Court to complete the acquisition by the end of the month. The Court approved the City’s petition of condemnation in April. In his report, City Administrator DJ Gehrt said the City had taken numerous steps over the past year to acquire the property to eliminate blight and provide a base for City services. The property was appraised, a redevelopment corporation and development authority were created, the planning and zoning commission approved amendments regarding blighted property, a purchase offer was made to the Wilson Trust, the trust offered a counter offer which was rejected and the entire matter was turned over to the courts to decide. None of this was due to strife between the City and Wilson Trust, as the plan was always for the matter to be decided in court, due to the covenants surrounding the trust and the stipulations within it for land use. The September 2013 appraisal placed a market value of $940,000, but under Missouri law, property owned by the same family for 50 years or more is subject to an additional heritage value of up to 50 percent of fair market value when subject to a public taking. When adjusted, the fair market value of the property rises to $1.41 million. The court-appointed commissioners valued the property at $1.3 million, so greater than the actual appraised value, but less than the full heritage value. The court-appointed commissioners’ value is within the City’s original expectations for the final value, Gehrt said, and within the funds budgeted for the project. Gehrt said though the property has obstacles, its location off Hwy. HH and I-29 makes it prime development land. “In conjunction with private developers, it is anticipated the City will receive far more than its $1.3 million expenditure over the next 20 years in real dollar terms such as property sales revenue, property tax, sales tax and utility revenue,” Gehrt said. Also at the meeting, the Board approved the recommendation to change the City’s property, liability and worker’s comp insurance carrier to Missouri Intergovernmental Risk Management Association. The City’s Economic Development Subcommittee discussed the change in insurance at its meeting last week, with Gehrt reporting the bid process had garnered four bids, including one from current carrier Midwest Public Risk and two private carriers. The City hasn’t shopped around for new non-health insurance since 2005. All bids, he said, gave the City better coverage at a more competitive rate than the current policy. Changing carriers offered several advantages over time, however. The base policy from MIRMA is about $16,000 less than the next lowest bid received and $24,000 less than the current policy. The Subcommittee also addressed a record four applications for fireworks stands. Applications were received for two operated by Bellino Fireworks, one by B&W Enterprises and another by Sky Blooms Fireworks, which is new to Platte City this year. Alderman Ron Porter said while in theory he had no problems with the fireworks stands, he would like the City to consider banning bottle rockets. Mayor Frank Offutt said the past Board had heard a presentation from Detective Al Devalkenaere, who has extensive explosives training, stating the risk from bottle rockets was mostly exaggerated. He said if the Board would prefer, it could hear from Devalkenaere again. The Board unanimously approved the fireworks stands with the consent agenda at the Tuesday meeting.