Pottawatomie County Commissioners Monday approved engineering design agreements for improvement projects to Green Valley Road and Harvest Road in the southwest portion of the county.
The commission approved an agreement with BG Consultants for design of the Green Valley Rd. project, which will begin at the bridge just north of Elk Creek Road.
The project will include rehabilitating the bridge deck; adding a third lane to the east side of the bridge and extending that lane south to Flint Hills Christian School; adding a pedestrian crossing on the west side of the bridge; and realigning the Elk Creek Rd. intersection to the south for better visibility.
The project, to be paid fully with state exchange funds, is expected to begin in either 2015 or 2016, according to Leu Lowrey, public works director.
The commission also signed an agreement with Benesch & Co. for a preliminary plan to improve Harvest Rd. from Excel Rd. east to Lake Elbo Rd.
With the Manhattan School District anticipating construction of a new grade school along Lake Elbo Rd. in the coming years, the county needs to plan for rapid development and increased traffic in the area, Lowrey told commissioners.
The preliminary plan will study right-of-way needs, replacement of utilities, projected traffic counts, and a cost estimate.
“Knowing there’s going to be a school over there, we also need to look at a pedestrian and bike path,” Lowrey said.
In other business Monday, the commission:
• Approved a request from David Craft to rezone from R-2 to R-3 a parcel at 3569 Dempsey Rd. to allow construction of multi-family apartments.
The commission had considered the rezoning request several weeks ago, but sent the issue back to the planning commission after a valid petition from area landowners protesting the move was submitted.
The planning commission considered the protest petition and approved a second recommendation for the rezoning.
The primary issue in the rezoning is the added water runoff from an apartment complex and parking lot in the area just south of Highway 24 where drainage is already a problem.
Commissioners said drainage improvements in the area might not occur for years.
“I’m aware that water’s an issue,” Craft told commissioners. “If it’s 15 years, there’s nothing I can do about it. Right now we’re just talking about a zoning change. That’s all we’re talking about.”
Absent a county policy regarding water retention, new construction projects must address water runoff before a site plan is approved and a building permit issued, according to John Keller, county planner.
“Until you come up with a master plan, anything that comes through our office is going to have a drainage component to it,” Keller said.
• Approved a request by Jeff Elder, district court judge, and Jane Shehi, court clerk, to purchase metal chairs to accommodate large jury pools for trials in the new Pott County Justice Center.
The new courtrooms seat 50-55 comfortably, but higher-level felony trials can require as many as 70 potential jurors, Elder said.
The commission authorized spending up to $1,500 for 32 chairs which stack in a vertically and can be stored in the basement of the justice center.
The commission also said it would try to allocate an area in the basement for storage of district court files dating back to the 1800s, many of which remain in storage in the courthouse.
“At some point in time, the old courthouse is not going to be available for storage,” Elder said.
• Reviewed with Appraiser Lois Schlegel a 26-page Scope Of Work Document (SOWD) required by law to be submitted by October 1, to the state Property Valuation Division.
“Anything we do in our office has to be addressed in this document,” Schlegel told commissioners.
• Spent the remainder of the day viewing the Belvue Bridge and other county roadways to the east.