Cheney asked to consider wells, septic for housing addition

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By Travis Mounts, TSnews

CHENEY – Cheney city leaders are being asked to consider allowing drinking wells and individual septic systems for a potential housing development on the northeast edge of the city.
During last Thursday’s Cheney City Council meeting, engineer Logan Mills – representing developer Roger Zerener – asked the city to waive its requirements that new homes in the city connected to city water and sewer services.
Zerener is looking to develop Bison Ridge, a housing development that would be accessed off of Shadybrook Drive and Hoover Street. Generally speaking, the development would be located east of Lubbers Cars, Dollar General and Cheney Baptist Church.
The original proposal calls for lower cost lots in the 75- to 82-foot range on the south end, with larger lots along the creek that runs through the property. Plans call for these homes to be on paved streets with all city utilities.
North of the creek, the development would have lots ranging from three to nine acres in size. Because of the size of these lots, special assessments for paved roads and utilities would be much higher. That is why Zerener is asking the city to allow drinking wells, private sewer systems and dirt roads. The development was first presented at the July 2020 city council meeting. The issues regarding streets and utilities were raised in that meeting, too.
Last week’s request also included a waiver of the city’s prohibition against propane tanks. City administrator Danielle Young explained to the council members that the city bans propane tanks within city limits for safety reasons.
Young said the city normally pays the cost to extend natural gas lines to new developments. It seemed likely the council would not waive that prohibition.
Council members also would need to provide special permission for the wells, septic systems and dirt roads.
Council member Jeff Albers expressed concern about what a waiver might mean in the future.
“It seems like we’ve cleaned up some messes that 15 years I’ve been on the council that were handed down from previous councils,” he said. “I want to make sure we’re not creating an effort down the road. … I want to make sure we have some time to think it through.”
Mayor Phil Mize also raised concerns while saying the city wants to see the development succeed.
“It seems like we’ve told people in the last couple, three years, we haven’t allowed it because we’ve worked out problems,” he said. “I think it’s a good use of the property, but I think we have to be careful.”
Mills said he did not see a problem with abandoning the plan for propane tanks if the cost of providing natural gas lines was covered.
In most cities, developers of new housing additions pay for needed infrastructure like roads, water and sewer. As properties sell, those costs are then passed onto property owners in the form of special assessments. If properties do not sell, the developer is responsible for those costs. That risk is the concern for Mills and Zerener.
No action was taken at the meeting.
In other business:
• City council members voted 5-0 to approve the sale of a city-owned four-wheeler and forklift. Other items have previously been approved for sale on the Purple Wave website.
• The council approved an ordinance adopting the latest Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department codes. It was discovered that MABCD had adopted new codes that the city was not aware of. That left the city with different building codes. That is a potential problem because inspections are done by Sedgwick County and inspectors would use the most recent MABCD codes. The new ordinance automatically adopts any MABCD changes, eliminating the potential for discrepancies.
• Council members were asked to approve a grant agreement with the Land and Water Conservation Fund program. The city previously won the grant, which helped pay for the Main Street sidewalk that connects downtown to the north edge of the Cheney Sports Complex on the south end of Main Street. The city has been waiting on reimbursement, which was held up because the agreement wasn’t signed. It was not signed because it had not been sent to the city due to a delay with the National Park Service. Now that the paperwork is done, the city will be receiving the grant money. That money also will help pay to extend the sidewalk to the north edge of the parking lot.
• Two new tornado sirens have been installed in Cheney by Sedgwick County. The new sirens are solar powered and mechanical, and will replace the most recently installed sirens, which had a number of issues including bad motherboards and exploding batteries. One siren is located on south Main Street near the old one. The other new siren is located by the Farmers Cooperative gas pumps on north Main Street. The plan was for it to go on land between Cherry Oaks Golf Course and Cheney High School, but the trees were too large.
• Activity at the golf course has plateaued as the weather has gotten colder, but through the end of October revenue had already exceeded all of 2021. Expenses also are up. The Nov. 4 rain brought three inches of much-needed rain to the course.