Gateway development divides Mission City Council candidates during forum

Nick Schlossmacher and Scott Babcock had disagreements centered on the Gateway project.
Nick Schlossmacher and Scott Babcock had disagreements centered on the Gateway project.

The development of the East Gateway land played a major role in the forum for Mission city council candidates Tuesday.

At least two of the candidates in the contested races took direct stands against the current Gateway project and the use of any tax incentives for its development. Nick Schlossmacher said he is not in favor of the current plan and that it should not qualify for tax incentives. It doesn’t fit with the mixed use development requirements, Schlossmacher said.

Scott Babcock, Schlossmacher’s opponent in the Ward 2 race, said the sales tax incentive for the Gateway does not hurt the city, but he acknowledged that residents don’t like the plan. The project may not deserve property tax incentives, Babcock said.

In closing remarks, Schlossmacher said the big difference between himself and Babcock is their stand on the Gateway. Babcock voted in favor the preliminary site plan twice as a member of the planning commission. Babcock responded to Schlossmacher’s remarks by saying the difference between them was that he had done his homework. The Gateway vote, he said, was an issue of following the rules.

Schlossmacher also claimed the support of current Ward 2 councilor Amy Miller.

Kristin Inman, who is challenging incumbent Jennifer Cowdry, also made her opposition to the Gateway and tax incentives known. She said the planned Walmart does not meet the “spirit” of the mixed use zoning and she opposes the use of the TIF and CID for the project. She cited the public opposition to the project as well.

Cowdry, who has voted in favor of the site plan on the council, said she couldn’t make a determination about the TIF and CID until she heard the analysis from the city’s financial advisers.

Ron Appletoft, who is running unopposed in Ward 4, said tax incentives are an important tool for luring new business to the community, but the key is the development and whether it enhances the community. He said if residents are not in favor of a project, tax incentives would not be appropriate.

Incumbent Pat Quinn in Ward 1 is unopposed and did not appear at the forum.

The candidates also responded to questions around housing revitalization, financing street and stormwater projects and critical initiatives facing the city. The Gateway project, streets, business support and park amenities were often listed as priorities for the candidates.

Brian Brown, chair of the government affairs committee for the Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, moderated the forum. Candidates were provided questions in advance of the forum.

Kristin Inman, Jennifer Cowdry and Ron Appletoft fielded questions from moderator Brian Brown.
Kristin Inman, Jennifer Cowdry and Ron Appletoft fielded questions from moderator Brian Brown.