At yesterday’s meeting of the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners, questions about a proposed industrial park development reveal that there’s still a long way to go before all issues are uncovered, much less understood.
At the meeting, Chris Chronis, Chief Financial Officer for Sedgwick County, presented information and responded to questions. While Mr. Chronis was thorough in some areas, even some basic information and understanding is missing.
For example, questioning by Board Chairman Kelly Parks revealed that it is unknown at this time who owns the mineral rights to the property.
Commissioner Karl Peterjohn asked Chronis about the relationship between the county and the city of Bel Aire, if the land is not deannexed from that city. Chronis said there is a “complete understanding” about the role each governmental unit would play. Peterjohn then asked if that agreement was in writing. Chronis replied no.
Peterjohn asked about the costs of other things besides land acquisition, citing a figure of $.50 to $2.00 per square foot for specific streets, landscaping, telephone and communications lines, natural gas, and other items. This could amount, Peterjohn said, to $9 to $35 million in costs that aren’t included at this point.
Chronis said “It has not been our plan, nor our intent, to do any infrastructure development within this industrial park. What we are committed to do is to provide site-ready land, build-ready land, to the industrial prospects. They have to make that land serve their purposes.”
Chronis also said it’s not his plan to spend any money on the interior of this land for these things. But sources in the real estate industry tell me that prospective tenants will expect these things to be done. Somehow government will have to provide incentives to cover these costs, and these costs are not being recognized by the county at this time.
The deannexation of the land from Bel Aire is an issue that may be difficult to resolve. Remarks by Commissioner Tim Norton brought up the scenario that platting the land, if it remains in Bel Aire, would go through that city’s planning commission. That could be problematic, said Norton, if that commission wouldn’t allow the types of things the county wants to do.
The commissioners voted unanimously to defer this matter for 30 days and to have a public workshop on this issue. The date for the workshop was not set.