Augustus development fosters discussion, public hearing

By Chris Swick
June 23, 2015

A housing complex planned by Tom and David Pyle was the subject of at times contentious disucssion during a study session Monday by the McPherson City Commission.

The proposed complex on the south end of Augustus Street would provide 20 units. At issue are drainage concerns raised by both nearby residents and the city. Public Works Director Jeff Woodward had several concerns on a drainage study done on behalf of the Pyles.

“Our drainage policy is that we contain the 10-year [flood event] and contain the 100 [-year flood event],” Woodward said. “By their own admission, in a 100-year event, their entire addition is underwater. Which means the 100-year event's never contained.”

Given that, Woodworth said he couldn't recommend the project to move forward. Developer Tom Pyle responded by pointing out that a fair amount of the city falls under the same concerns.

“It's got to be a common sense application or you refuse to allow permits to be able to repair hundreds, if not thousands, of homes and businesses in the community,” Pyle said. “So I think that's just a common sense issue.”

McPherson Mayor Tom Brown felt that a north/south drainage ditch concern on Augustus would have to be dealt with regardless of the development, and that he was in favor of moving forward, as long as that particular ditch issue is dealt with.

Streets and Utilities Commissioner Larry Weins and developer David Pyle had a heated exchange at one point over the possible flood hazards.

"You might visit places like Houston that just had issues with flooding and things like that and see what their policies are in regard to flooding and safety," Pyle said.

"This isn McPherson, Kansas," Weins said. "This is not Houston, Texas, or Alabama or any where else. The fact is that we have residences in town and streets in town that flood and nobody's going to argue that."

The commission and the Pyles agreed that it was time to put the development to the public. To that end, a public meeting was tentatively set for 9 a.m. on June 29.