Weston public forum slated for next week

Weston will hold a public forum next week to discuss the results of its recent citizen survey.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 at the Bluejay Room at the West Platte School District. Consultant Michael Soler of Executive Workforce Consultants will present the results of the citizen survey and the public may ask questions and discuss thoughts and concerns regarding city leadership.

Soler was hired last September to create a job description, advertise for and recruit candidates for a full-time city administrator position. By November, aldermen terminated the search, then redirected Soler to instead perform an audit of city employees and conduct a citizen survey.

For years, the city has considered hiring a city administrator to oversee some day-to-day operations, promote the city and help in acquiring grant funds.

The board also discussed how to address the problem of losing local tax income from vendors at the Weston Applefest and small-vendor events held at Weston Burley House. Last month, the board authorized city attorney Jeremy Webb to send letters to the Weston Chamber of Commerce and the owner of the Burley House, inquiring how many vendors have remitted city sales tax. Only the chamber responded, Webb said, and of the 73 non-local vendors at last year’s Applefest, only seven turned in their city sales tax.

Aldermen considered options for how to address this problem, and who was responsible for enforcement. Alderman Joyce Priddy said every year the chamber sends out letters to past vendors inviting them to return for the next Applefest. She suggested the chamber add a requirement for vendors to provide proof of paid city taxes before they can return.

Webb was authorized to send another letter to the chamber and Burley House requiring this provision for future events.

The question of responsibility also arose on another long-discussed topic – the Humes Road bridge. The aging structure provides the only access across a creek to seven houses in a small subdivision. The bridge was damaged in floods in 2011 and since the city has sought ways to fund a replacement.

Alderman Rebecca Rooney questioned if the bridge was the city’s responsibility. If Humes Road was created as a private road, then the bridge would be considered private property as well.

City clerk Kim Kirby and city staff said the city had maintained the road and bridge for decades, so that if it once was private property that is no longer the case. Rooney said she’d like to see the documentation turning the roadway over to the city.

“There probably isn’t any documentation,” said mayor Cliff Harvey. “It was probably done with a handshake.”

In the past, many such deals were informally made, he said, and the city had long ago accepted responsibility for the roadway and bridge. Since the flood, the city has applied for five grants seeking funding to assist with replacement, with another application pending to Platte County for stormwater funds. An engineer’s estimate for replacement was commissioned several years ago, with the price tag exceeding what aldermen wanted to spend.

The board decided to postpone further discussion on the bridge pending the outcome of the stormwater grant application.

Another long-discussed subject had some forward momentum this month. Aldermen, with the help of community member Jeff Elsea, have assisted property owners with voluntary annexation efforts for several years. The largest property is McCormick’s Distillery, and inclusion of McCormick’s into the city’s sewer system brought up questions on capacity.

The board authorized consulting firm Lamp Rynearson to investigate the output of McCormick’s current waste treatment facility. As a significant industrial user, the distillery could significantly increase the amount of sewerage the city would need to handle.

Public works director Mike Large said since they were checking on output from McCormick’s, they should do the same for Pirtle Winery and Weston Brewing Company.

Scott Pirtle of Pirtle Winery and Corey Weinfurt of Weston Brewing Company were in the audience, with Pirtle stating he was skeptical of the study.

“You can waste your money and find out that we don’t put anything harmful in the sewer,” Pirtle said.

Weinfurt agreed, stating the American Bowman restaurant on the brewery property put out more wastewater than the brewery itself.

Lamp Rynearson’s consultant in the audience agreed with the assessments of the two business owners, stating their operations were small and would not have a fraction of the impact McCormick’s would have. However, she could include them in the study with minimal cost.

Also at the meeting, the city tweaked its ordinances to allow delivery of beer with pizza. Last month, Weinfurt approached the board with the idea. City ordinance already allowed it, but required the beer be purchased in person. The ordinance was clarified to allow sales over the phone. Delivery drivers will be required to check the identification of the purchaser and cannot sell beer to someone who is already intoxicated.