The City of Johnston may be joining other Polk County communities in requesting a special election on March 6, 2018 for a Local Option Sales and Services Tax (LOSST). A sales tax election may be initiated by motions from the governing bodies of communities which collectively represent at least 50% of the population of the county. A simple majority of the voters in the combined contiguous cities must approve the tax before any of the cities can collect it.
At their work session on December 4, the Johnston City Council discussed the issue, the required timelines and possible ballot language. The deadline to submit a resolution to request a March 6, 2018 special election is December 12, 2017. The council will discuss the language at a meeting on December 12th and if there is agreement on the language, a separate resolution adopting the ballot language could be included in the December 18 City Council meeting agenda. The Council has reviewed ballot language that was used by several communities in the successful Sales Tax vote in Dallas County held on November 7, 2017.
Several Polk County communities are have already approved petitions to conduct an election.
- Ankeny – approved a resolution at their December 4th meeting
- Clive – will conduct a special meeting on December 11th to consider a resolution
- Des Moines – approved a resolution at their December 4th meeting.
- Pleasant Hill – approved a resolution at their November 28th meeting.
- Urbandale – approved a resolution at their December 5th meeting.
- West Des Moines – approved a resolution at their November 27th meeting.
Based on information provided by the State of Iowa the estimated amount of annual sales tax funding (based on FY16 projections) for Johnston is $2,576,420 (3.19% of the total collections in Polk County). If 50% of the sales tax funding is used for property tax reduction, it would reduce the property tax levy by $1.02.
At their work session on December 4, 2017 the Johnston City Council began consideration of a plan for annexing areas north of the current City limits and along Saylorville Drive. The City has received an annexation petition from seven property owners representing approximately 537 acres. Property held by Camp Dodge would be included in the plan, along with property recently acquired by the U.S. Navy.
In the scenario presented in Figure 2, the proposed annexation would include all of the colored properties and be 100% voluntary, excluding government property which does not require consent. Download the complete staff report here.
City staff is expected to proceed with further study including infrastructure engineering, easement planning, environmental reviews, and an update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Infrastructure installation (sewer and water) will likely be deferred until a high-quality project has been identified. It is also expected that City development policies will be structured to encourage swift development through a combination of incentives such as utility connection fee escalators.
This is not a new or unexpected development. Since 1998, the area along Saylorville Drive to the north/east of Highway 141 has been identified as a future growth area for the City in the Johnston Comprehensive Plan. There are 714 developable acres in the area including Beaver Creek Golf Course and Hoyt Tree Farm. An additional 700 serviceable acres have been identified in the area north of Saylorville Dr, making about 1400 total acres potentially available for development.
A proposed development agreement for the Bricktowne housing development is being considered by the City of Johnston. The Bricktowne development is a 21 acre site on Merle Hay Road directly south of Johnson Brothers. The proposed project would consist of 408 apartment units, the majority of which being one bedroom units. Amenities include detached garages, a clubhouse, outdoor pool, activities building, dog park, pet station, nature trail and large central courtyard. The buildings would be 100% brick with a slate roof. Three colors of brick will be utilized to give the appearance of a rowhouse style development.
The proposed Development Agreement includes three areas of city participation.
The transfer of 15,805 sq. ft. of excess Right of Way. The Developer intends to use the property for a portion of their resident dog park and to complete a secondary access through their property.
A rebate of 70% of the Bricktowne property’s tax increment for five years conditioned upon several requirements including constructing a unique architectural facade, and meeting the construction timelines for each phase of the project – a minimum one building shall be completed each year for six years with the first complete by December 31st 2019.
A forgivable Loan in the amount of $30,000 to support the Developer’s acquisition and demolition of the two properties that were not part of the original land acquisition – 6411 and 6435 59th Court.
JEDCO has supported the use of these incentive to encourage a diversity of housing and to build population which will support further commercial development in the Merle Hay Road south corridor.
A proposal to subdivide about 10 acres of the Amber Ridge PUD into 42 townhome lots and one outlot for future commercial development has been submitted to the City Council for consideration. This property was the subject of a rezoning request that was approved in September, 2017 to allow townhome uses on the property.
The property is south of NW 62nd Avenue and west of NW 100th Street. View the staff report here.
The center piece of the of north Merle Hay Road Redevelopment plan is the current site of City Hall and surrounding properties. One of the challenges of implementing a plan like this is the assembly of a critical mass of property to facilitate development. In the right circumstances it is appropriate for communities to purchase properties and aggregate them into parcels that can be resold to developers. This approach was used successfully by the City of Johnston on Merle Hay Road in recent years – leading to the development of the Cadence housing project.
Developers should take note that the City is approaching critical mass with the properties adjacent to the current City Hall. The City has acquired (or is in the process of acquiring) several properties on the northeast corner of NW 62nd Ave. & Merle Hay Road. Further progress was recently made when the City approved a purchase agreement for 6285 Merle Hay Road. Do you have a project that would be suitable for an important node in the Johnston community? For more information, contact Adam Plagge, Economic Development Manager for the City of Johnston.
Zoning Change Approved
The Johnston City Council held a public hearing on June 19, 2017 concerning a proposed amendment to the Amber Ridge PUD zoning ordinance. The change would allow for R-4 high density residential housing in the area. The proposal was previously declined by the Johnston Planning & Zoning Commission. Notwithstanding the expressed concerns of some neighboring residents, the Council seemed satisfied with the required density, parking availability, and likely storm water management requirements. A motion to approve the zoning change on first reading was passed with the restriction that the development be limited to two story townhomes.
The change would would preserve the property immediately adjacent to NW 62nd Ave. for both retail and office uses. Forty-two town homes are planned for the south portion of the property. View the June 19, 2017 staff report, and the original staff report for more information.
The Johnston City Council and Planning & Zoning Commission met in joint session on May 22, 2017 to consider the input received about the various concept plans for the area. See the previous article for more information about the alternative plans.
In summary, based on the input received the “Town Center” concept was the overwhelming favorite. Those who provided input in the planning process also expressed a desire that the future development include restaurants and public space for the farmers market and other activities, and a trail connection. Commercial retail uses were also desired. Support for maintaining City Hall as an “anchor” for development was also mentioned.
The population in the market area (3 mile radius) is estimated to be almost 40,000, or about 15,000 households – 75% of which are owner occupied. Consultants shared data which suggests that the location would be attractive to retailers and other commercial interests including: average household income = $105,000; and 50% with a college degree.
The next phases of the planning process will include the development of design guidelines, cost estimates for infrastructure, property acquisition, and the construction of public amenities. In the future there may be a request for proposals for developing the site. It was noted that the development phases could cover a period of up to 15 years.
It is not too late to provide input about the plan. Send comments to Adam Plagge, Johnston Economic Development Manager.
A 7,000 square foot daycare facility has been proposed for the intersection of NW 100th Street and NW 62nd Ave. The location is just south of the Casey’s General Store. Site plans for the facility were considered and approved by the Johnston Planning & Zoning Commission at their meeting on May 30, 2017. The site plan will now be advanced to the Johnston City Council for consideration.
The Johnston City Council granted final approval for a request to amend the Comprehensive Plan for land use and the official zoning map in Windsor Office Park to permit the development of medium and higher density residential units in the northwest section of the area. The development – proposed by Ewing Land Development Services – would create a new senior residential cooperative.
Other residential projects for the area have previously been considered. Three things distinguish this project proposal from its predecessors.
- The project plans for lower density bi-attached or town home units adjacent to the residences located to the west – apparently providing for a more acceptable integration with the neighborhood.
- The project places the higher density senior living facility to the eastern portion of the project – bounded by NW 90th street. The eastern portion of Windsor Office Park would remain unchanged with on focus on commercial uses.
- The project is structured as a cooperative – meaning that residents would purchase shares in the development in lieu of purchasing the properties directly. The concept has been used with success in other areas of the greater Des Moines region.
View the updated Ordinate and Preliminary Plat for the project here.
A 4,500 square foot warehouse has been proposed on NW 55th Ave. by the Frampton family. The site currently includes another warehouse building on the northern boundary of the site. The Johnston Planning and Zoning Commission approved the site plan, which now advances to the City Council for action. View the staff report for more information.