Alderman hear update on reopening plans

By Dennis Minich

COVID-19 and development were the major topics of discussion when the Harrisonville Board of Aldermen held its meeting Monday via the Internet.

Prior to the regular meeting, the board was updated on various topics about the Coronavirus, including a schedule for reopening city facilities and projections of economic damages the city may incur.

City Administrator Brad Ratliff told the board city facilities will open in phases in coordination with the governor’s guidelines. Under the plan, the Community Center will reopen May 11, although there will be limitations which will be outlined by the Parks and Recreation Department.

Also, on May 11, city hall will be open by appointment only and only the lobby will be accessible. No unnecessary business will be conducted in person. There will also be limited access to the lobby of the EMS departments.

On the week of May 25, the city hall lobby will open to visitors, however the
number of people allowed in the lobby will be limited.

The city has also set up an email address and phone number for residents with questions about what they can and cannot do as stay-at-home restrictions are eased.

Residents can email or call 816-380-8965. To use the service, email or call with questions and the appropriate city officials will respond.

Ben Hart, a representative of Baker Tilly Municipal Advisors, that works
with the city’s finance department, gave the board a brief overview of projected losses to the city’s general fund following the COVID-19 outbreak, using a model he called a financial stress test. Hart gave three scenarios depending on how the economy rebounds once businesses reopen. Based his report, the best case scenario would show the city losing about $1.62 million during the next five years, another where the city’s loss would be about $4.4 million while the worst case could be nearly $7 million.

Development took center stage during the regular meeting when the board gave unanimous approval to the permanent special-use permit for the development of the Cedarhurst of Harrisonville Senior Living and Memory Care facility on Rock Haven Road. The board had previously approved financing for the plan.

The board also gave final plat approval for an indoor hydroponic farm on Brookhart Drive. First discussed in December, the development will be used for raising Asian Sea Bass, a popular product in many high-end stores and restaurants as well. Plans also call for growing a variety of fruits, vegetables and edible flowers.

The farm will be located on a 12-acre site located between Brookhart Drive and I-49 and bounded by 267th and 275th streets. The board also approved the rezoning of .482 acres at 708 Lindbergh St. from M-1 to R-4. M-1 is a limited industrial zone, while the R-4 is a medium density apartment development. The site was once constructed as a triplex, but is being
reconstructed into a duplex.

Another development issue, of sorts, was announced when Ratliff announced Jim Clark had been hired as the city’s new economic development director. Clark had held the same post in the past, but left and went to work in Peculiar, where he worked for Ratliff, who was then Peculiar’s city administrator.

Ratliff said Clark will join the city May 18 and will immediately go to work on helping local businesses recover from the COVID-19 restrictions.
In other business, the board approved the reappointment of Michael Weaver, David Atkinson and Robert Wiseman to the city’s Historic Preservation Commission and approved an updated contract for the caretaker at Lake Harrisonville.