Developer Craig Browning works at the site of a new home he is building in Hidden Meadows in Paola. Browning said the city’s new housing incentive program was definitely enticing for developers when it was active.

PAOLA — Paola city leaders are considering bringing back the city’s new housing incentive program to encourage home construction throughout the city.

The previous program was renewed in March 2018 but expired at the end of last year. It offered reduced fees associated with new home construction to encourage development.

Under the program, the build permit fee was reduced by 65 percent, plan review fee by 65 percent, sewer fee by 50 percent and water fee by 50 percent.

Before the renewal, the program offered larger incentives for lots in Rockwood Estates because of the city’s ongoing burden with special assessments attached to those lots.

Dawn Atwell, managing partner of Elite Home Builders, spoke during the July Paola City Council meeting and asked city leaders to consider bringing back the incentive program.

“It made a big difference for us,” said Atwell, who is considering building homes in Rockwood Estates. “There’s a lot of build-ready lots in our community.”

Atwell said the city issued 16 building permits for new homes in 2017, nine in 2018 and only one so far this year.

Paola City Council members and other city leaders discussed the topic during a work session earlier this month and seemed receptive to the idea of bringing back the program, although no official decision was made.

Randi Shannon, administrative assistant to the city manager, said the council members are mapping out the specifics of what the incentives will be. The issue is expected to come up for a vote at a future council meeting.

If the program is approved, it wouldn’t be the first time it was brought back after a public request.

In 2016, the council agreed to revive the program after Brad Ennis spoke during the public comment portion of a council meeting.

At that time, the program had been active for two years before expiring at the end of 2015.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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