Here are a few highlights from the March meeting of the Bennington City Council. (Full meeting minutes will be posted here.) If you have ideas, questions, or concerns about these issues or any other, don't hesitate to e-mail me:
Kempten Creek: The Council gave conditional approval to this new housing development located south of Bennington Road across from Johns-Bohn Park and the soccer fields. The plan includes 170 single-family homes and 35 townhomes, adding much-needed housing at a lower price point. The development will eventually connect to both Bennington Road and 156th Street. Those connections involve neighboring landowners, and that's one major reason why our approval is conditional. Agreements for the use of neighboring land still need to be worked out.
This new development will sit on the higher ground to the south, and the low-lying ground closer to Bennington Road will become a great opportunity for new parkland and youth sports fields. The city intends to buy that land. However, because the development's exact layout is not finalized, and because of the to-be-determined cost of the 156th Street project (see below), we tabled the acquisition of that land for now.
Speeding concerns: During Police Chief Drew Hilscher's monthly report, we discussed speeding concerns at several locations around town. Last month, city police officers issued 36 traffic warnings and citations. Sixteen of those were for speeding, including 13 for going 11 mph or more over the limit. In response to concerns about construction-related traffic coming and going from the Prairie Hollow development, our officers conducted additional monitoring on North Molley and Allen streets.
If you have specific concerns about traffic safety, you can always contact me or e-mail the Bennington Police Department directly. Chief Hilscher plans to post future stats about traffic enforcement to the Department's Facebook page.
Streets funding: Through the state's contracting process, the 156th Street project was awarded to the sole bidder, K2 Real Estate Development out of Lincoln. The total project cost is now estimated at $7.6 million, far above the original estimates we were discussing a year ago. We will access special bonds for highway construction to finance the city's share. The school district is sharing in the cost as well. Because we're seeking credit for preliminary expenses that the city has already incurred, the exact amount still owed by the city is not yet determined, but it will be higher than anticipated.
On a more positive financial note, this month the Council gave final approval to the ASIP fees ordinance, which will become a new source of funding for street and road maintenance. The fees will be assessed on new homes outside of the city limits, bringing in new dollars to supplement the funding provided by resident taxpayers. ASIP fee revenue won't help with the 156th Street project directly, but it will help with future projects.
Again, don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions or concerns about any of these important issues.