Pending development sounds really great — new places to visit, new tax dollars and new reason to hope your favorite store might be moving to town. When it comes to the pending development in Platte City east of Interstate 29, the idea in your head might be a lot sexier than the eventual reality. Sustainability might be a word that you start to hear a lot and start to tire of quickly.
I think the general perception is that new shopping and dining amenities are coming to Platte City. Finally, you will get your Chipotle, Costco, Cheddar’s, bowling alley, etc. that you’ve always dreamed about having right here in town with no trip up or down the interstate necessary.
My guess from observing last week’s open forum, sparsely attended but full of useful information, is that the reality might be a little more practical and a lot less exciting.
Let’s think medical office space, light industrial business and housing. There will probably be a retail component in there, but don’t assume there’s a Zona Rosa North coming to Platte City.
We all like to think Platte City can support the desired retail locations, but the fact remains that many small business have gone under trying to survive here: shopping, dining, etc. Remember that word sustainability? There seems to be this notion that if business comes to town, Platte City will support it and help it thrive.
In reality, many of the desired locations exist right down the road, and people don’t mind bypassing a unique spot in town to travel to Barry Road or North Oak Trafficway.
Why is that? Well, I certainly don’t have the answers. I can only tell you about what I know and what I’ve seen in this community. We’ve all heard the complaints about fast food row off of Highway 92, but yet, those businesses remain while others go by the wayside.
Could some of the previously mentioned brands survive here? Possibly.
However, the key part of this development remains to increase the tax base for the city. I don’t think there’s any secret about that
RH Johnson Company — the city’s development partner — plans to thoroughly vet the market and will try to work with citizen input to come up with a strategy for the nearly 200 acres immediately east of I-29 between HH Highway and Highway 92. The suggestions will likely be focused around what helps the city achieve the goal of increasing the tax base with the ultimate goal of using that financing to help provide services to the citizens of Platte City.
Just don’t be mad if you don’t get the casual dining restaurant you wanted and have to deal with an alternative.
Speaking of food and business in Platte City …
Culver’s officially opened in town on Monday and now will be open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at its location on NW Prairie View Road. Famous for burgers and frozen custard, the chain started in the northern United States with locations currently in 22 states.
Yes, this is another fast food option, but there is a certain amount of dining room experience with a decently diverse menu.
In more government news, the Dearborn Board of Aldermen broached an interesting subject that seems to have increased relevance in today’s political climate.
This isn’t about Republican vs. Democrat or policy on Syrian refugees or tax rates. No, city officials have worried about the lack of candidates in general for spots on the board and have already started taking steps to avoid those problems in the future.
Currently, the Dearborn board operates with just three members due to the death of Steve Buckler and a lack of candidates that filed for election this past spring.
In wake of the shortfall, the aldermen adopted a policy to go away from the current two-ward system and allow all four spots on the board at large. Don Kerns, recently elected as a Ward I representative, brought back up the ideas of a stipend for board members to try and entice more participation in city government.
The discussion centered around an allowance for the water bill of elected board members.
Aldermen would be allowed to forgo a certain amount of money each month, having to pay the difference on the amount over but unable to collect any unused portion as cash. However, there were concerns over taxation of the allotment and the amount of the allowance.
This didn’t go to a vote, but I’ll be very interested to see how it’s handled and if it provides a potential example for other cities experiencing similar troubles to follow.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.