Is a frontage road public or private?

First development project near casino hangs on answer


For The Jefferson Herald

Negotiations are likely to begin soon on how to finance a new frontage road on the north side of U.S. Highway 30 in connection with a proposed truck plaza at that location.

Tom Timmons, president of Wild Rose, which owns the casino at the corner of Highways 30 and 4, visited with the Jefferson city council Aug. 14 about the need for a frontage road to make the truck plaza a reality.

Three years ago, Wild Rose sold a three-acre lot immediately west of the casino to Vaughn Bauer, of Paton, and Robert Drees, of Carroll, for the truck plaza. 

Timmons noted the plaza would provide “significant development accretive to the local property tax base,” and that further development along the proposed frontage road to the west would add to that value.

The hangup for the last three years has been who would pay for the road. 

Jefferson Mayor Craig Berry told The Jefferson Herald this week that for private projects in the community, it has been customary for the developer to pay for infrastructure.

Because of significant development additions to the community that the frontage road would make possible, Wild Rose’s position is that the road should be a public project — paid for as much as possible by the city.

Total estimated cost of the road project, including drainage work, is $1.4 million.

Berry said this week that Jefferson City Administrator Mike Palmer is drawing up an outline to be used for negotiations between the city and Wild Rose. Berry added that he expects the negotiations to begin soon, with the issue to be back on a council meeting agenda possibly in September.

An offer from Rueter Farms, owners of the land west of the proposed truck plaza, no doubt adds impetus to the importance of the negotiations. 

Bauer and Drees would like to purchase the two-acre lot immediately to the west of the plaza site for truck parking in connection with services at the plaza. Kim Rueter said that Rueter Farms would donate proceeds from the sale of the two-acre site to help defray frontage road costs.

Price of the two-acre lot is $160,000.

In addition, Rueter said, Rueter Farms is donating the land for the road itself, amounting to about three acres. That makes the total Rueter Farms donation around five acres for the project.

At last week’s city council meeting, Timmons said that the proposed truck plaza would be the first major development project in that area since Wild Rose broke ground for the casino in June 2014. 

He added that to help facilitate the project, Wild Rose is offering to forego its planned recreational vehicle park off the northwest corner of the casino, and instead extend the small pond that exists at that location southward to help provide drainage for the road and truck plaza project.

Timmons noted that Wild Rose to date has provided about $4.3 million for civic and charitable projects to the Greene County area through the nonprofit Grow Greene County Gaming Corp. since its inception.

In addition, it has paid nearly $500,000 in property taxes.

“If we want development,” Timmons said, “we’ve got to build a road.”

The council and city officials made no response to Timmons’ remarks at last week’s council meeting, but Berry and Palmer said this week that discussions will be forthcoming between the city and Wild Rose. 

Palmer told the Herald that the city’s financial committee will confer before the Wild Rose meetings begin.

On other matters at last week’s council meeting, the council approved a resolution to apply for a state transportation grant of $75,000 to improve the east entryway on Old Highway 30 into the city.

An extension of Palmer’s employment agreement with the city was approved in the amount of $97,400. Berry said that the council had given Palmer an outstanding rating on his performance review.

The council approved a plat of survey for the sale by R4K LLC (Hoyt and Morain Law Firm) of the east 12 feet of the firm’s property at Lincoln Way and Grimmell Road to adjoining property owner Ed Calvert. Calvert has been maintaining the strip of land to be sold.

The council approved the purchase of a mower and sprayer for $31,000 for the Jefferson Community Golf Course. The money came from the city’s general fund.

After a presentation by Greene County Development Corp. Executive Director Ken Paxton, the council approved the quarterly funding payment to the organization.

The council released final retainage on Godberson-Smith’s contract for Lincoln Ridge Estates Deer Run construction.

A Neighborhood Incentive Improvement Grant for Arnold and Mary Norgart was approved.

Councilman Matt Wetrich reported that the fundraising effort at RAGBRAI for the proposed animal shelter raised $23,000, which was matched by Home State Bank. 

The shelter fund now stands at $210,000.

Councilman Matt Gordon was absent from the meeting.

The next regular meeting of the Jefferson city council will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers on the second floor of City Hall.

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