Peculiar aldermen consider financing for new Price Chopper

By Sheryl Stanley

It was a marathon three and a half hour session May 4 for the Peculiar Board of Aldermen as they considered a number of items ranging from economic development, to the short term sale of city water to assist another Cass County community, to possible changes to the city’s budget and personnel structure.

The bulk of the meeting, more than two hours, was devoted to hearing in-depth reports from city attorney Joe Lauber and others on the creation of both a Community Improvement District (CID) and a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan to assist Super Market Developers, Inc., Kansas City, Kansas, as it purchases and upgrades Country Mart, Peculiar’s only grocery store, for use by Cosentino’s Price Chopper.

The reports occurred in conjunction with the first reading of four separate ordinances required by state law to enable the economic development incentives.

Super Market Developers, Inc. proposes to purchase Country Mart in the very near future and make substantial upgrades and improvements to both the interior and exterior, including a new façade, a 5,000-square-foot expansion, a new pharmacy department with drive-thru access and other enhancements that will total approximately $4.5 million.

The project could begin as early as June 1 and will be completed within a year. The new grocery store will encompass 30,000 square feet of space.

For its part, the city of Peculiar has agreed to spend approximately $1.5 million to make street, sidewalk and utility improvements around the retail site that will improve access and traffic flow. The work would start in 2021 and take approximately 12 months to complete.

All four ordinances introduced during the meeting were unanimously passed to a second reading by votes of the board. A final vote on their passage is expected to be May 18 during the board’s next meeting.

In other business, the board heard a request from Public Water Supply District No. 7, which serves the community of Freeman, to purchase water from the city during the month of May while repairs are being made to its water system. The board settled on a price of $8.36 per 1,000 gallons and directed Interim City Administrator Carl Brooks to negotiate a contract for the sale.

The city of Peculiar is currently awaiting voter approval to sell its municipal water system to Missouri American Water although that question will not be settled until municipal elections June 2. PWSD No. 7’s need is not expected to extend beyond the end of May.

Finally, Brooks presented information to the board regarding possible impacts on the city budget and employee staffing if the sale should be approved. Aldermen will continue study and discussion as the plan goes forward.

Earlier in the meeting, the board heard a request from builder Bob Schmidt, Raymore, and Larry Dobson, Peculiar, regarding sidewalks in the new Fox’s Den subdivision.

Although Peculiar’s municipal code has required sidewalks on both sides of the street in new developments since 2008, Fox’s Den was designed, the final plat was approved and homes were built without the infrastructure. Schmidt pointed out that installing sidewalks on both sides of the street increased building costs which are passed on to new buyers.

Dobson, who lives in and developed the Centennial Farms subdivision, said in his observation, people do not use sidewalks, preferring to walk in the street, so the sidewalks are not used for pedestrian traffic as intended.

After discussion, the aldermen asked staff to gather additional information so they might consider amending the code of ordinances in the future.

The board also decided to continue meeting via the digital platform Zoom, at least for the next meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 18, and to keep city hall closed at least through May 31.