Neosho City Council members on Tuesday opted to table signing off on a letter that gives the city’s assurance that a planned subdivision south of town would have access to water, sewer, storm water drainage, and other facilities.

Troy Royer, Neosho City Manager, said the city had received correspondence regarding the Prairie View subdivision project, which had been selected as a recipient of Missouri Housing Development Commission funds.   

 “They’ve sent a correspondence to us, basically pre-writing a letter for us to send back to the state of Missouri,” Royer said, noting that the letter appeared to be aimed at assuring the underwriter of the accessible utilities.

Richard Davidson, Neosho mayor, said while storm water and other facilities would be struck from the letter, as the city would not be responsible for providing those, the city does already have water and sewer service stretching to the subdivision area.

Developers Carmichael and Neal, PC have planned a 29 home addition, located on Sweet Grass Circle, south of Neosho a quarter-mile off Missouri Highway 59 on Palm Road.

John Harrington, the city’s code enforcement officer, said there is one home already located in the area, around lot 7 or 8. He said from his understanding, the project has been divided into two phases, the first for the 29 lot addition and the second for an additional 80 to 100 lots.

He said the city’s involvement with the subdivision stretches back to 2005.

“There was an agreement with their lawyers because right now they’re not touching any city property, that should they become contiguous with us, that, they would go ahead and annex in all those properties,” Harrington said.

He said, as is the case with other non-Neosho residents hooked onto city utilities, those in the development were to be charged one and a half times the rate of a Neosho citizen.

Some city council members, however, had questions about allowing the out-of-town residents to hook onto city utilities.

“I don’t see what this has to do with city business since they aren’t in the city,” said mayor pro tem Steve Hart. “I guess if they build houses out there they can ask to be hooked up to city sewer and water for one and a half times the rate. If they build a house out there they can ask for it but they do have to ask, they can’t just hook up, right?”

Steve Hays, Neosho city attorney, said it is common for a developer to make the request on behalf of the subdivision.

He said in 2005, it was the desire of the city to get water service to AA Highway, due to potential industrial development. Sewer was also added at the time, and the then-landowner donated all property necessary for the city to stretch the sewer line south.

That sewer line, running to the west of Missouri Highway 59, would service the subdivision.

Mike Hightower, Neosho public works director, said an eight-inch water main runs down Palm Road.

Harrington also noted that he believes fire hydrants are already located near the area.

“I think what we’re going to have here tonight is whether or not there’s water or sewer and that’s the extent of our liability,” Davidson said. “There is water and sewer there. The question is, do we put our signature on a letter to say there is water and sewer to a subdivision that has water and sewer.”

Davidson said he attempted to contact a representative from the commission to get more information about what the city would be signing off on, however, he had not heard back from that individual by the time the council meeting began.

Councilman Charles Collinsworth recommended that they table the issue until more information became available.

The Neosho City Council wrote a letter in support of the Prairie View Estates development in early October 2011, though the developers did not receive the funding that year.

In 2012, the city opted to instead throw their support behind two proposed projects that would take place within Neosho city limits, though neither of the two were awarded the funding.

“I think it’s interesting to note that the city did not endorse this project, the city endorsed one inside the city limits,” Davidson said. “The city supported that one, it was not chosen. The county did not endorse any projects. But Prairie View was chosen and according to the housing commission’s own notes, because of strong public support.”

He also noted that construction costs are estimated at $4.3 million, coming in at around $115 per square foot.

“I don’t want to use this as an example, because it’s not the city’s job to determine who does and who doesn’t get a project,” Davidson said. “If you want to take an example and look at how government gets involved in things it possibly shouldn’t be, the housing commission’s own numbers show for these 27 units, they estimate each house to cost $204,152. Those are some pretty nice houses that go well-beyond the needs for subsidized housing.”

In other business, council members:

• Voted, on final reading, to accept several changes to city building, plumbing and electrical codes in order to meet International Standardization Organization requirements.

• Voted to accept a bid of $10,300 from Enviro-Line of Osawatomie, Kan. for a new pump at the Buffalo Creek Lift Station, located south of Walmart on Missouri Highway 59.

• Recognized Daphne Pevahouse, accounting manager, as the City of Neosho’s employee of the quarter.

• Opted to wait to vote on the proposed installation of a new light pole on Fairway Circle. They asked that Royer bring forward the agreement with Empire Electric for the new pole before they vote on it.

• Approved an $845 maintenance agreement with Firehouse software for the Neosho Fire Department. The agreement allows the department to receive annual updates to the reporting software.

• Approved a $741 agreement with Copy Products for yearly service and maintenance of the Neosho Fire Department copier.

• Approved a one-year, $1,200 extension of an agreement with Ozark Business System, which provides the Neosho Police Department with black and white copies, as well as consider renewing an agreement with the same company, which provides the NPD with eight-cent color copies.

• Announced vacancies that exist on the airport industrial development board; board of adjustments/zoning; economic development sales tax committee; historic district commission and the planning and zoning commission.