Lennox City Council voices frustration with Lincoln County P&Z over TIF District delay


Lennox City Council held their second regular meeting of the month on January 27.

One addition was added under executive session and the Countryside Addition TIF District Update was taken out of the consent agenda and added to old business before the agenda was approved.

With no visitors to be heard, council moved to approve the consent agenda, which included approval of minutes from the Jan. 13 council meeting, claims as presented, as well as reports for the library, police and ambulance. All written reports are available on the city’s website (www.cityoflennoxsd.com).

A few highlights from Audrea Buller’s Library report stated that beginning on Feb. 1 Rhoda Strasser would be displaying her art show at the Library. Buller also wrote that in the Library Year in Review numbers were down slightly, showing 8,555 items were checked out in 2019 compared to 10,188 in 2018.

Under the Police Department Report, Chief Will Erickson stated that for the month of January the police department has had 134 calls for service. He also explained that the Lennox Police Department received some recently re-certified radars from the South Dakota Highway Patrol at no cost.

For the Lennox Area Ambulance Report, EMS Director Alan Perry stated that 2019 finished with a record high call volume of 430 and a record billing of $160,877.

He also reminded the council that the Ambulance Fundraiser is Feb. 16 at the Lennox Ebenezer Church from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Also, an EMT class is scheduled to start in Lennox approximately Mid-February.

Under old business, Council held the second reading of Ordinance 604: Re-Zoning 208 Court Street. Council approved the second reading.

Also under old business Council discussed the status of the Countryside Addition TIF District. Mayor Tracy West said he has concerns about the delay, citing frustration with the Lincoln County Planning and Zoning Commission.

West said, “It seems like the delay tactics are being employed on this to keep stretching it out and it’s negatively impacting our time that we have to put our stuff together and get some building done.”

Mayor West and Lennox City Administrator Nathan Vander Plaats attended the Lincoln County Planning Commission meeting on January 21 along with Toby Morris. Planning Commission members had an opportunity to ask questions with Morris answering. The Commissioners, particularly Mr. Pashby, took issue with what he interpreted as missing information in the TIF study and in the proposed resolution. Such as the costs of financing the district and costs of the City’s work on the district.

Morris responded that the reason these costs were not included is because the City is not claiming them for reimbursement from the TIF District. Morris will be adding these items with a $0 cost on the revised agenda

The other issue was whether the City can consider the area ‘blighted’ for housing purposes under SDCL 11-9-8 through 11-9-10. Vander Plaats wrote in a memo that Morris attempted to answer that question, but was frequently interrupted while doing so.

At the end of the Jan. 21 meeting, three commissioners were vocally uncomfortable moving forward without having the resolution revised and reviewed by counsel for completeness. A small committee made up of Ms. Landeen, Mr. Pashby, and Mr. Derouseu was formed to work out the language of the resolution.

Vander Plaats noted, “Ironically, this is exactly what Mr. Morris proposed to the Planning Commission in November.”

Mayor West said that he would like to sit down with the City of Lennox finance committee to make sure they have all of the information they need before he sends off a letter.

“I just don’t see why this continues to be drug out,” Mayor West said.

Council member Brock Rops added, “My greatest disdain… is just the lack of urgency. They got this thing in October, November. We’re trying to break ground on new development, which was proven by our housing study. I think they are delaying economic development, they’re delaying new residential housing for us… they are wasting time and taxpayer money, and not getting anything done… Now, we sit for almost a quarter of year with no progress because the Lincoln County P and Z [Planning and Zoning] won’t move it,” Rops said.

Council held some discussion. Mayor West summed up by saying he would like to formulate a response to express the Council’s frustration.

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