Sabetha City Commission to consider extraterritorial expansion

Proposed Extraterritorial District:  Dark green shows area within Sabetha City Limits, including the contiguous city limits, as well as Sabetha City Lake to the west and Pony Creek Lake to the north. Area highlighted in green shows the city’s current extraterritorial district, which extends approximately one and one-half miles outside of the contiguous city limits. Area highlighted in blue shows the proposed expansion of the city’s extraterritorial district. This proposed expansion would extend approximately three miles outside of all Sabetha city limits, including both lakes. The light yellow depicts the exact three-mile range; however, when this distance encroaches upon another incorporated city’s three-mile range, it can only go half the distance to that city. Therefore, it cannot fully extend three miles toward the cities of Bern, Morrill, Fairview and Oneida.

The Sabetha City Commission met at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at Sabetha City Hall. Present were Mayor Doug Clark and Commissioners Norm Schmitt, Nick Aberle, Maridel Wittmer and Julie Burenheide.

City Administrator Doug Allen updated commissioners regarding the process to consider expansion of the city’s extraterritorial district.

At the City Commission’s Jan. 14 meeting, commissioners approved a change to the city’s Land Development Code Article 2 Section 2-102, prohibiting the use of commercial wind turbines within the extraterritorial area as defined within Sabetha’s Comprehensive Plan. This change was recommended by the Sabetha Planning and Zoning Commission, following a public hearing on the proposal.

During that hearing, the Planning and Zoning Commission was asked about the possibility of expanding the city’s extraterritorial district to provide zoning protection to property owners who did not want commercial wind turbines on or near their properties or homes. At that time, Allen said to do this the city would need to change the city’s Comprehensive Plan to redefine the extraterritorial district.

Currently, the extraterritorial district extends approximately 1-1/2 miles from Sabetha’s city limits. The Planning and Zoning commissioners indicated that it would be their recommendation to have this expansion considered, and the city commissioners at their next meeting agreed.

The proposed change to the extraterritorial district will expand the district to approximately three miles surrounding Sabetha city limits. Allen noted that this included three miles around any current property considered within city limits, which includes Sabetha City Lake and Pony Creek Lake. See map depicting current extraterritorial district and proposed district on Page 8A of this week’ Herald.

Two public hearings will be held to consider this change — first the Planning and Zoning Commission on March 7, and next the City Commission on March 11. Allen said the city office is working on public hearing notices for these meetings.

Sixth Street

In 2017, the Sabetha City Commission approved a walking trail and repairs to Sixth Street, but continued delays are again pushing back the timeline for construction and completion. Repairs to Sixth Street including repaving the street and installing a storm sewer under the street.

The only construction that has begun is on utilities, including water, gas, telephone and internet. Assistant City Administrator Bill Shroyer said the gas company and telephone/internet company still are out two to three months.

“I think they were overwhelmed by the project being bigger than they thought it was going to be,” Shroyer said. “And the street cannot go in until all the utility work is finished.”

Shroyer and Allen said they hoped to have a new proposed timeline soon, but they had not seen it yet. Shroyer said he would estimate that work would not begin on Sixth Street itself until May, and the entire street will not be done for a year.

Street work will begin on the south side and work north, avoiding the northern side until the completion of baseball, softball and soccer seasons — approximately mid October of this year.

Commissioner Schmitt asked about how some homeowners who only have access to their homes via Sixth Street would be accessing their homes during the construction process.

Shroyer said the plan is to leave the road usable by homeowners as long as possible.

For a few houses, Allen said, the city is considering the possibility of rocking an alley where it is platted south of Jefferson and west of Sixth Street.

The intersections at Sixth and Roosevelt streets, and Sixth and Lincoln streets will never be fully closed, Allen said.

Power Plant Transformer

Following a lightning strike in September 2017, the city power plant’s transformer was damaged. The transformer was newly installed in early 2017. After investigation, it was determined that the “tap changer” was the part that had been damaged. A tap changer regulates the voltage in the electrical system.

Because the city brings in most of its power through Westar Energy’s southern substation, the city has been able to operate manually since that time because of Westar’s advanced equipment at that substation. However, during the summer of 2018 the city started having some issues and it became clear that a permanent fix was necessary.

“If it [Sabetha’s transformer] does not work right, we could be in jeopardy if Westar’s south substation went down for any reason,” said Randy Campbell, electrical production supervisor for the city.

For that reason, Campbell said, they have been working to prepare the city’s power plant to generate the city’s entire load on Tuesday, Feb. 19, to allow repair companies to come in and evaluate the transformer to see what needs to be fixed.

“We are hoping that it is a simple fix, but we don’t know,” Campbell said.

If the transformer cannot be fixed at that time, the city might either have to generate the load again for one day while the repair is done, or they might have to re-energize the old transformer to carry that load if the repair requires the current transformer to go out of service for a rebuild. In that case, it would take a month or two to prepare the old generator to do that, Campbell said.

Mayor Clark asked what the worst case scenario is for how much this repair could cost.

Allen said the cost is still “up in the air” until the repair companies come in and look at it.

“I hope $100,000 is high,” Allen said. “It could be just a couple thousand, but we just really do not know.”

Also at the meeting:

Commissioner Burenheide asked if Oregon Street is on the list for repairs this summer. Shroyer said that it was not originally on the list, but it is now. Shroyer said he believes the damage was caused by the rain and ice, coupled with the maintainers trying to clean off the roadway. He said a company is scheduled to come look at it, to see if they have a product that can be put down underneath chip and seal. He said the city also will be looking at doing similar repairs on North 14th Street.

Allen informed commissioners that he plans to have Greta Heiman, director of the Sabetha Health and Wellness Center, come to a meeting to give an update soon.

The commissioners approved Corbin Knobloch as a Emergency Medical Technician.

The commissioners were informed that Kansas Municipal Utilities Day at the Capitol is Feb. 6. Allen said commissioners who would like to go need to tell him.

The commissioners approved minutes from the Jan. 14 meeting.

The next regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11.

Amber Deters118 Posts

Amber Deters is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2005. She specializes in school board, election and legislative reporting, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Amber is a 2005 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in journalism and mass communications, print journalism sequence. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and three children.

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