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The Kenig Konnection

October 2015

You know it's October when the leaves are falling, the days are getting cooler, and the Royals are winning post-season games.  As I sit here writing this, the Royals have erased a four point deficit to the Houston Astros to win the game 9-6, thanks to two homers by Hosmer. Such an exciting time to be in Kansas City as the quintessential comeback team continue to rack up wins and keep us talking about baseball. Let's hope that the luck continues as they take on the Astros again this Wednesday in Game 5 of the ALDS. Around the city, there has been plenty to do, from the John Glaser 5K that honors the memory of one of our fallen firefighters to the Scarecrow festival and Octoberfest celebrations, there has been plenty of family activities to keep everyone busy.

Currently, the Governing Body is reviewing food truck regulations, city ordinances that restrict ownership of backyard chickens, and prioritization of street maintenance programs.

Council Committee Items

Urban Chickens, Public Comments

At last week's council committee meeting, we discussed the increasing interest among several residents in raising poultry to have fresh eggs. Current regulations require residents to obtain a special use permit, only have 10 chickens or less (no roosters), pass inspection by the Community Service Officer, and restrict chicken coops to a minimum setback of 100 feet from any adjoining property lines. The 100 foot distance requirements. Many residential lots - particularly in the eastern part of the city - are smaller than 1/2 acre, which makes the distance requirements impossible to fulfill. The Governing Body has instructed city staff to craft regulations that would reduce these restrictions, allowing chickens to be housed 10 feet from adjoining property lines and 40 feet from buildings while still maintaining permit and inspection requirements as well as limits on the number of chickens.

A Shawnee citizen, Ray Ehrlichman, proposed that the Council modify Policy Statement 7, which specifies when members of the public can offer comments and suggestions to the governing body. Currently, the public is not allowed to offer comments during "Miscellaneous Council Items," the phase of the meeting typically before we adjourn when council members usually comment on city events and programs or offer final thoughts and reflections on agenda items already discussed. It was suggested that we open that portion of the meeting up to public comment, similar to the call for public comments offered at other points during our meetings. We had considerable debate about the proposed change with some councilmembers expressing concern that the move would allow for unnecessary debates and challenges on items that had already been settled in prior meetings. The governing body voted 5-3 to advance the change in policy to a vote at a future council meeting and I voted YES. I believe we should always take every opportunity to gather input from citizens and open up our meetings as much as reasonably possible to hear feedback, suggestions, and additional ideas. It is the job of the Mayor and the Council President to moderate the dialogue and ensure discussions and feedback doesn't devolve into back-and-forth arguments and personal attacks, but I do not think fear of debates should prevent us from providing an open forum for input throughout our meetings.

SEED Funds for Device Shop

Council votes 7-1 to fund equipment purchases for Shawnee tech incubator

The Device Shop (located on Shawnee Mission Parkway next to Sharks, just west of I-35) is a unique Shawnee business which builds and helps develop companies specializing in technology hardware, acting as an incubator, accelerator, funding source, consultant, coach, office and facility space,and equipment source - all in one. From printing to manufacturing, and a green room for video production, everything a startup needs to launch successfully is provided. I toured The Device Shop a few months ago with Councilmember Jim Neighbor and learned about many of the startups currently working out of the building, from a company specializing in roving camera drones to take aerial video at sporting events (CandyCam) to a manufacturer of mobile device holders for speedboats and watercraft to charge devices and video record movement out on the water (YoloTech, which is also applying to appear on the hit CNBC show "Shark Tank").

The Device Shop has requested $75,000 in monetary assistance to assist in the purchase of new equipment, including a 3-D printer and molding machine (roughly half the total cost, as the Device Shop will fund the remaining costs). The Shawnee Entrepreneurial and Economic Development (SEED) program allows for Economic Development funds (derived from the landfill impact fee paid to the city by Deffenbaugh) to be utilized in the form of grants and assistance to businesses that grow our local economy and address the city's strategic development goals. The Device Shop is a community asset as the only full-service startup resource that services emerging businesses specializing in tech hardware specifically. The businesses nurtured and matured by the Device Shop will expand and seek out their own office space, and as a city, we have an opportunity to be their first choice of location due to their experience as a tenant within The Device Shop and our support for their continued presence in Shawnee.

The council voted 7-1 to allocate $75,000 in SEED funding from the Economic Development Fund to The Device Shop for equipment purchases (with requirements that The Device Shop maintain a Shawnee address or forfeit the funds) and 
I voted YES. Technology businesses are the fastest-growing segment of our economy and the key to growing high-skilled jobs in Shawnee and expanding office development. The Device Shop not attracts these businesses, but grows them, and the expansion of these startups present numerous opportunities for us to develop and retain a vibrant tech community right here in Shawnee.

Street & Drainage Projects

Prioritizing major improvements for 2016

With new funding from the 3/8th cent pavement tax approved by voters in 2014, we are now able to prioritize work for many street and drainage projects that have long been on hold. Individually, each of us on the council is prioritizing top projects and in our November 3rd council committee meeting, we will come together as a body to prioritize these projects from the backlog for funding in 2016. The public is invited to attend this meeting and give their input on any projects of importance to them as the council moves forward.

Click HERE to view an interactive map of street conditions in the city and see how your neighborhood compares.

Mayor Michelle Distler holds office hours at the Shawnee Civic Center on the third Thursday of every month, where she provides a city update and takes your questions. The City Manager and city staff are present to assist with any resident issues. Take advantage of this opportunity over coffee to connect with the Mayor on the issues that matter most to you. We have a great mayor who truly values government transparency and accessibility to citizens, and this is just one example of how our city demonstrates that commitment to the public.  
When:   Thursday, October 15th
Where:  Shawnee Civic Center
             13817 Johnson Drive
Time:     9:00 am

Erfurt Park Dedication

New park highlights sister city relationship

I had the honor of participating in the dedication of Shawnee's newest park, named in honor of our sister city Erfurt, Germany. Shawnee has sister city relationships with three cities: Erfurt, Germany; Pittem, Belgium; and Listowel, Ireland. The sister city relationship with Erfurt began in 1993, and since then, there have been several cultural exchanges with city officials and staff from Erfurt visiting and touring Shawnee, and our own city staff and elected officials visiting the eastern Germany city. This past weekend, we welcomed 13 visitors from Germany and we commemorated the 22 year special relationship between our two cities by dedicating our newest park, on 71st street between Clare and Gleason roads, to our sister city, the capital of horticulture in Germany. This park honors the architecture of our German sister city in its shelters and includes wildflowers, walking paths, and fountains that pay homage to our sister city's extensive parkland, making it a regional attraction and the most unique, European park in the area. The park dedication was live-streamed on the web so that residents in Erfurt could watch the ceremony live, despite being separated by a seven-hour time difference. Click here to watch video from the ceremony.

Mayor Andreas Bausewein of Erfurt, Germany and I at the welcome event for the German delegation at Boulevard Brewery. 

  About Brandon

Ward 4 Map

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Brandon Kenig
Councilmember - Ward IV
City of Shawnee

Copyright © 2015 Brandon Kenig for Shawnee City Council, All rights reserved.

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