by Alan McArthur
A letter distributed at the Platte City Chamber of Commerce's monthly meeting on Thursday and in email form to select members of the chamber has caused a stir among some members--and some non-members as well.
The letter placed at the chairs of members before the meeting by developer Tim Dougherty accuses neighbors and local media outlets of “vilifying” the proposed Lake at Tomahawke Ridge development. Tomahawke would be a high density development of 655 homes on 300 acres about four miles east of Platte City at Hwy. 92 and Winan Road.
Platte County Planning and Zoning Commissionon recently voted 6-2 against allowing the development to obtain a preliminary plat. The developers, who include Dougherty and majority landowner Hal Swaney, have indicated they will appeal that decision to the county commission.
The main focus of the letter is the anticipated economic impact for the Platte City area. The letters states:
“It is estimated that Lake at Tomahawke Ridge will generate $28 million in taxes by the time of its completion. On the private side, it will spin off $530 million in bank deposits, $30 million in food and drink sales, $59 million in grocery sales, $51 million in vehicles expenses (other than gasoline), $12 million in telecommunications and $10 million in insurance premiums to name a few of the organizations that will benefit from Lake at Tomahawke Ridge. These revenues are needed to keep Platte City growing strong. We should not shift these revenues to Parkville nor should simply forego them in Platte County altogether.”
According to Dougherty, a financial institution helped generate the estimated financial information.
“We had a financial institution who figured out the numbers,” said Dougherty.
Dougherty then directed further questions to his attorney.
According to Chris Byrd, attorney for Dougherty, the numbers are based on a long term construction schedule at the development.
“My client with the help of a financial institution used an estimated build-out of 22 years,” said Byrd.
Based on the growth of 30 homes per year over the 22 years, Byrd said they arrived at the numbers presented in the letter.
Byrd declined to name the financial institution that helped come up with the numbers.
“Given the (level of) opposition to the development, I don't want to disclose that,” said Byrd.
The letter also claims that the county is pushing further growth to happen to the south near Parkville and not in the Platte City area.
“The county is now pushing that new growth should occur closer to Parkville. I have been a member of this community for years. I want to stay in this community. I want Platte City to benefit from the economic engine that Lake at Tomahawke Ridge will become,” Dougherty wrote.
According to Byrd, this section is in reference to the county's land use plan.
“If you look at the land use plan, the suburban growth areas are around Parkville,” said Byrd.
Byrd said that the land use plan only allows growth near the Parkville area and not in areas around Platte City.
The letter was placed at the chairs of members at the chamber's meeting on Thursday.
However, Karen Wagoner, executive director of the chamber, said the letter was only approved to be placed at the check-in table.
“Originally the letter was to be placed at the check-in table, but it ended up getting distributed and I don't know who did it,” said Wagoner. “We allow all members to put information at the check-in table.”
Wagoner said the information for the meeting is reserved for chamber members only, and non-members cannot have information at the table.
Previously, Kirby Holden, resident opposing the development, had requested the opportunity to provide information against the development after Dougherty had used a display board at a previous meeting.
In emails obtained by The Landmark, Holden requested the opportunity to speak to the chamber members on April 24, 2008.
Wagoner responded to Holden in an email, “At the Chambers [sic] April membership luncheon Tim Dougherty of RE/MAX Homes Center was allowed to put up a board display in the room. He was not given any formal time for presentation. As Chamber membership meetings are not open to the general public, we will not be able to honor your request.”
In the next email from Holden to Wagoner on April 28, Holden asked if he joined as an individual whether he would he be allowed to present a display board. The chamber's website currently lists three members as individuals not associated with a business.
“So if I joined as a private individual I would be allowed to put up a board display at your next meeting?” said Holden in the email.
Wagoner then responded in an email the same day, “No, we still are unable to accommodate you.”
In a phone interview, Wagoner said the chamber has no opinion on the development and is not in the middle of the issue.
Holden said he hopes the development does not turn into an economic issue.
“I hope this does not turn into an economic issue,” said Holden. “This should not be decided by the dollar amount.”
Holden said that if developments were approved based on economics then none would ever be turned down.
The letter from Dougherty was also posted on the website www.noto500homes.com along with an “open letter” to the chamber members addressing points in Dougherty's letter.
The letter, signed Concerned Citizens of Platte County against Tomahawke Ridge, asks the chamber members to consider a few other points.
The first point the letter makes addresses the statement by Dougherty that the development has been “vilified in the local papers and among its immediate neighbors.” Dougherty also said the residents are trying to close the gate to Platte County for new residents.
“There are hundreds of empty lots available to be built on in the Platte City area and Platte County, no gate has been put up. No 'gate' has been put up in the area around the subdivision as the entire area has seen growth and for the last several years has followed our land use plan. Which is why so many people have moved to this area,” said the letter on the website.
The letter points out the development sits between Smithville and Platte City, and therefore many of the residents may spend their dollars in Smithville.
“This subdivision is so far away it is very close to being halfway to Smithville. With the traffic mentioned above, many people may find it easier to drive a minute longer to Clay County.”
The letter from the concerned residents ends with a statement of why many people have moved to the Platte City area:
“Most of us moved to this area of Platte County for the good school with moderate sized class sizes, the beautiful area and lack of traffic hassles…We think our Planning and Zoning Staff have done a good job and our Commissioners have our county headed in the right direction for growth and safety. There is no place in this system for strong arm tactics so developers can make millions of dollars at the expense of others.”