Developer proposes ‘entry-level’ housing in Garden Plain

Eric Gilbert proposes building houses like this one in the Bentwood Addition, located north of US-54 in Garden Plain. The homes would be built on smaller lots and would range in size from 1,200 square feet to 2,200 square feet for a two-story model.

By Sam Jack

GARDEN PLAIN – New “entry-level” homes, priced in the low $200,000s, could be coming to Garden Plain.
Last Wednesday, Eric Gilbert brought the Garden Plain City Council a proposal: He would purchase the city-owned land known as the Bentwood Addition, re-plat it, and develop a neighborhood of smaller homes with prices perhaps starting around $200,000.
Gilbert is the owner of Artistic Builders, which has been involved in developing subdivisions such as Nottingham Estates in Mulvane and Summerchase at The Oaks in Derby. The Bentwood Addition is located north of US-54.
Gilbert said he recently traveled to Texas to take a look at an example of the new housing concept.
“These particular houses require 53-foot-wide lots, which is smaller than most, but it allows more housing,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised with it. They’re nice houses, with granite countertops, three or four bedrooms, two baths.”
Bentwood is currently platted into 23 lots. Gilbert’s concept would make room for around 40 lots in the same footprint.
Single-story homes would range in size from 1,200 to 1,600 square feet. Two-story models would also be available, with up to 2,200 square feet of floor space. Despite the smaller lot sizes, there would still be six to eight feet of clearance on each side of each house, Gilbert said.
The houses would be built on concrete slabs and would not have basements. Gilbert said he would plan to incorporate storm shelters or safe-rooms.
“This is new to this area,” he said. “Slab duplexes have become popular, and that’s really the first slab stuff that we’ve done around here, but we want to bring in single-family. There really hasn’t been a need for it until the cost of construction has gone up so high. … Your newlyweds and people finding new jobs just can’t afford those houses. There was a need for it.”
City council members appeared receptive to Gilbert’s proposal, noting that the smaller size and single-story layout would be ideal for older people and empty-nesters as well as young families.
Gilbert said he would need to do some due diligence on sewer and utilities before making a formal proposal and offer. The matter will likely be taken up again at next month’s meeting.
In other business:
• Mayor Kevin Hammond appointed Brent Randolph as a city council member, and the council confirmed his appointment 4-0. Randolph will serve the year remaining on Alan Youngers’ term. According to his LinkedIn profile, Randolph works as an oil and mineral landman and independent contractor.
Youngers moved outside the city limits. The council approved Youngers to serve on the city’s economic development committee, which does not have a residency requirement.
• The council approved three bids from JCI Industries, totaling $34,448, for replacement parts, shipping and labor at the wastewater treatment plant. They directed plant operator Mike Bader to wait until after Jan. 1 to spend an additional $1,896 for an electronic component.
“We probably ought to look at, consider, raising rates again this year, just because this isn’t going to stop,” city treasurer Darren Haukap said later in the meeting.
“That, and we have to start looking at a new sewer plant,” Hammond said.
“If we add 40 houses (in Bentwood), 27 in Trailridge, that’s 60 houses in the next few years,” Thul added.
The council agreed to put a review of sewer rates on the agenda for next month’s meeting.
• Police officer Alissa Imperatore shared information she had gathered about public information systems that would allow the city to send text messaging alerts to people who opt in.
“This would be for a serious public safety event, or public works; like, gas line is out, water’s out, power’s out, severe weather event, there’s a theft here and can someone give us information,” Imperatore said. “It won’t be an everyday thing.”
Everbridge Nixle, which several local-area cities use, would cost $3,616 for the first year and $3,300 for years two and three.
Other options seemed to be cheaper. The council asked Imperatore to get some more information about those options’ pricing and features.
• The council unanimously approved an ordinance regulating food trucks. Once the ordinance takes effect, food trucks will not be allowed to set up shop within 100 feet of the entrance of a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
• The council agreed to host a Trunk or Treat on Main Street event on Halloween, starting around 4:30 p.m.
• Mike Long, owner of the Trailridge Addition, updated the council on final plans to extend utilities to the new lots. Utility contracts will be advertised for bids, with the understanding that no contract will be awarded until the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) gives needed approvals. The Trailridge Addition is what would have been phase two of Pretty Flowers Estates.
• Erica Vernon, who lives west of Cheney Lake and receives Garden Plain water, addressed the council and complained that her house has received inadequate water pressure for the past five or six months. Council members asked the water system operator, Michael Bader, to look into the issue.
“We need to look into it, figure out what’s causing it, and get it remedied as soon as possible,” council member Tracy Thul said.
• The council agreed to join the Kansas Municipal Insurance Trust (KMIT) employee health insurance pool, which will initially include 1,500 employees from around 50 different cities. The move will save the city $2,060 per month without substantially affecting benefits. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas will remain the city’s insurance provider.
• The council agreed to spend $3,750 to have Larry Kleeman of Ranson Citycode codify the city’s ordinances.
Currently, the city has more than 750 ordinances, city clerk Kim McCormick explained. These are kept in seven binders, and it can be cumbersome to search them in response to requests for information.
The codification would organize the ordinances into a single book, and all ordinances would be available and searchable on the city’s website, After the initial codification, Ranson will charge $950 per year to keep the website up to date and print supplements to the codebook.
• The council agreed to hire the engineering firm Kirkham Michael to draft standard utility specifications for future housing developments, at a cost of $2,500.
• The council agreed to contract with Alert360 for cameras and security systems in city facilities.