City meeting

Due to COVID-19 the Abilene City Commission continues to meet regularly with the meetings available to the public on the city’s YouTube channel.

The owners of Midwest Meats is still working on a site plan, City Manager Jane Foltz told the Abilene City Commission at its study session Monday.

At the last regular meeting in 2020, the commission, on a 5-0 vote, approved a letter of intent on a real estate offer by Midwest Meats.

Troy Leith with Leith Enterprises offered to purchase lot 1, 3 acres for $18,000 or $6,000 per acre. The offer accepted by the commission also includes a one year option on lot 2 which is 4.9 acres.

Mayor Chris Ostermann asked for a discussion of Midwest Meats after receiving a letter, Foltz said.

The letter was from Hank Royer and was published last Thursday in the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle.

“It was during my 24 year run on the Abilene Economic Development Council that we recruited Russell Stovers and acquired the adjacent land for future development, to keep it under city control. During that time we did field inquires from slaughterhouses and poultry producers expressing interest in lands we had,” Royer wrote. “We reviewed each inquiry and determined in each case that they were not a good fit.”

“We didn’t, apparently, have all the information when we made the decision,” Ostermann said. “One of the items that was pointed at was it should have been a conditional use.”

 

Next step

Foltz said the project has not reached that step.

“What we did was a letter of intent for them to purchase property,” Foltz said. “They have not come in for the ask. That’s when the conditional use permit will tell us what they are going to do on the site.”

She said a site plan is being developed.

“They haven’t asked us about water, sewer, what their part in that would be,” she said. “We are not there yet.”

“When we were talking about it at the last meeting, when they were giving us a letter of intent, this information was not supplied to us,” Ostermann said.

Foltz said that the city was asked by the Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation what was allowed on the property the city owns.

She said it is zoned for a stockyard and slaughterhouse which are allowed with a conditional use permit.

“We don’t know if they are going to have a slaughterhouse or locker plant. Those are the things I don’t have anything solid,” Foltz said. “They haven’t come to us with a conditional use. That is where you can set the rules.”

The conditional use permit would go through the Abilene Planning Commission and then, if approved, sent on to the city commission for approval.

 

Special meeting

In a 3-2 vote the commission voted not to recess into an executive session to evaluate and discuss the city manager’s performance.

After the special meeting was called to order, Ostermann said executive session was being requested after she was contacted by several members of the public.

“It’s in regards to a situation,” she said.

Ostermann made the motion and Commissioner Dee Marshall seconded the motion.

Commissioner Tim Shafer first questioned the need for the executive session.

“We have a business meeting next week. This couldn’t wait until then?” he asked. “That would be the normal course of things.”

Ostermann said it was a time issue.

“With less than two months remaining before the city manager’s retirement date, I see no possible desirable outcome, myself personally. So, no,” said Commissioner Rein.

“Again, with the city manager retiring here in two months, our focus I believe needs to be as a city commission as focusing on the search for that next city manager. With the interest in that, I vote no,” said Commissioner Trevor Witt.

Shafer also voted no. Ostermann and Marshall voted for the executive session.

Ostermann said the session was because of contacts from the public.

“If you don’t want to answer to the public, that is fine. That is your choice,” she said.

 

Report

The eighth street project will receive an award from the Kansas Ready Mix Concrete Association, Foltz reported.

Foltz said the Abilene project was one of 10 projects recognized for the award.

The project will be automatically entered into the American Concrete Institute Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards program.

 

Mayor

The commissioners reviewed the ordinance approved on Jan. 13 last year that has the election selecting Abilene’s mayor.

The ordinance says that the city commissioner receiving the highest number of votes in the general election will serve as vice-mayor and then mayor. 

The person with the second highest number of votes will serve as vice-mayor in the second year and then mayor in the third.

In the Nov. 5, 2019, election Brandon Rein, current vice-mayor, received the most votes with 782. He is expected to take the gavel next Monday.

Former Mayor Dee Marshall received the second highest number of votes with 568. She will become the vice-mayor Monday.

Trevor Witt was appointed to the commission in 2018 to fill the term of Terry Chaput.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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