Independence project, sewer plant worry eased

The pace of development in Independence’s new residential development should allow the city’s sewer treatment plant to keep up, the chairman of the utility committee concluded after concerns that the project could swamp the plant.

“I’m in support of the development,” said utility chairman Ben Sylla, “but I want to make sure it benefits all of the city. According to projections, we should be able to handle it.”

Sylla initially raised concerns at a city council meeting last Wednesday about the effects the undertaking, called Markham Addition, would have on the city’s wastewater treatment plant. At that meeting, the council reduced by two the number of lots in the development, going from 45 to 43, and named a through street Cherrywood and two streets ending in cul-de-sacs Willow and Ash courts.

The council tabled how much to charge for the lots, with Mayor Robert Baecker arguing for perhaps $1.75 per square foot with council members Jason Ekern and Rick Theisen recommending $2 up to $3 square foot depending on the desirability of the lot location.

“Lots in the $15,000, $18,000 or $20,000 range are more sellable and will get people building sooner,” Baecker said. Ekern said a higher price for the lots would help create a “good neighborhood to live in.”

Sylla told the council that rapid development of Markham Addition would strain the sewer plant, which consulting engineers SEH said will need improvements over the next five years.

Baecker said he expects the development to grow, initially, at just three to four houses a year. Sylla said the city’s water services are adequate to serve the development.

Estimates put the cost of extending city water and sewer and building roads to prepare the 22 acres for development at $1.6 million. The expense is expected to be covered eventually by increased taxes from developed land through two tax incentive districts. Home construction, which would be done by private developers, could begin this summer.

In other action on the project, the council agreed to put a $183,000 asking price on the house vacated by of Robert Luethi on the land he sold to the city. The figure is based on estimates from real estate agents. The council decided to not install sidewalks and is developing a list of covenants on outbuildings, lot coverage, garage size and other restrictions to maintain the appearance of the project.

Northern Investment Company of Independence will handle sale of the Luethi property and of the development’s lots.

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