City approves new historic district, discusses potential short-term-rental property regulations

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Lee Elementary Neighborhood Historic District
The Manhattan City Commission approved the first reading for the establishment of the Lee Elementary Neighborhood Historic District during its meeting Tuesday.
The move, recommended by the Historic Resources Board, serves to preserve the architecture of multiple house which local residents and experts refer to as having a mid-century modern design.
However, the designation will also make it more difficult for the Acacia Fraternity, which owns multiple lots in the district, to add parking stalls on its property.
Commissioner Mark Hatesohl, the lone opposing vote, says he does not like the government getting involved in this situation.
      Hatesohl
Commissioner Linda Morse says that while she understands parking is a premium, the area should be preserved as much as possible.
      Morse
In addition to the arguments made by the parties involved, the commission also took into consideration the consent of local property owners.
According to one public commenter at the meeting, consenting tenants own just under 60 percent of the property in the district.
Short-term-rental properties
The Manhattan City Commission discussed Tuesday the possibility of implementing new regulations for short-term rental properties.
According to city officials, while STRs can provide unique and often relatively affordable lodging options for visitors, they can also cause issues for local residents, such as higher property taxes, reduced rental inventories, parking shortages and safety concerns.
Potential regulations include but are not limited to required permits, occupancy limits, inspections and limits on how STRs can be used.
Commissioner Usha Reddi says she wants to keep the regulations from being too burdensome while also creating a fair playing field for STRs, hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts.
      Reddi
Commissioner Aaron Estabrook says he does not want the city to invest more resources than are necessary into regulating STRs.
      Estabrook
City officials noted that if new STR policies are not created, there will continue to be “regulatory disparities between STRs and hotels, motels and B and B’s.
US-24/Meadowlark Hills project
Commissioners voted to hold an Aug. 17 public hearing to establish a benefit district to help pay for the project.
The approximately $548,000 project will be paid for by a combination of city, Kansas Department of Transportation and benefit district funds.
Commissioner Linda Morse says the improvements have been needed for several years.
      Morse
As for the speed at which the project is moving, Public Works director Robert Ott says it is coming along relatively quickly.
      Ott
For information about ongoing public works projects in Manhattan, visit cityofmhk.com.
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