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LENEXA, Kan. — After securing roughly 43 percent of the vote in a four-way primary, Melanie Arroyo will challenge incumbent Corey Hunt to represent the 3rd Ward on the Lenexa City Council. 

Ahead of the general election on Nov. 2, FOX4 is working to help voters get a better idea where candidates stand on issues impacting residents in the metro.

FOX4 sent out a questionnaire to candidates in more than 50 races in Johnson County. FOX4 did not receive a response from Arroyo.

Here’s a look at what Hunt had to say:  

Q: Would you support the city issuing a mask mandate or any other health orders beyond what has been recommended by the county health department? Please explain why or why not.

Hunt: I do not support or advocate for mask mandates. I do support following the recommendations of the CDC pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic and the (delta) variant. I am vaccinated and believe the decision to get vaccinated is between the individual and their physician.  

Q: What is your view on the use of tax incentives for new development? What criteria would you use when determining if incentives like Tax Increment Financing (TIFs), tax abatements or the creation of a Community Improvement District (CID) should be granted to developers wanting to build within the city?

Hunt: I believe tax incentives are good for economic development when done properly and with appropriate performance requirements within the agreement/contract(s). There are currently three (TIF) districts in use within Lenexa. These districts are fixed geographical areas set by the state of KS. Within these TIF districts we can use a combination of incentives which drives development in areas that would not normally see development.

A great example of this in Lenexa is the Lenexa Mining (TIF) district. This entire area is undermined, rocky and very expensive to prepare the land for development. The (TIF) exists there to encourage developers to take the risk and develop the land for economic growth with a quality level Lenexans expect. The current development along the new stretch of Ridgeview Rd from Prairie Star south to Highway 10 is a great example of this kind of development. In every case that I know of in Lenexa, if the TIF incentive did not exist, development would not occur.

Community Improvement Districts (CID) should promote economic development, tourism and community investment within a defined area or district. A CID project should provide public benefit such as strengthening economic development and employment opportunities, reducing blight, upgrading older real estate through redevelopment or rehabilitation.

A good example of this is the Old Town parking lot. The Old Town parking lot and many features in the store front area were redeveloped using CID funding. Many of the economic development incentives are born out of resident surveys and city visioning projects. For example, from resident surveys we know Lenexans overwhelmingly want to see a variety of grocery store options and more restaurant dining options in Lenexa. The CID helps drive that kind of development – think Sonoma Plaza with McKeever’s Market, Red Door Grill and the Big Biscuit.      

Q: What initiatives would you support to improve affordable housing options in Lenexa? How can the city offer a range of housing options for residents of different income levels? 

Hunt: Lenexa is a wonderful place to live! In fact, Money magazine named Lenexa the best place to live in Kansas and 59th overall in the entire country! The criteria used for this amazing recognition is our low crime rate, and housing among others. Lenexa already has some of the most affordable housing in all of Johnson County, Kansas. The reason is we have a good mix of different types of housing in just about every area of Lenexa, certainly in Ward 3.

The city has a great planning process which looks at character of the neighborhood among other criteria. There are many neighborhoods in Lenexa where there are single-family homes, multi-family homes and senior living in the same neighborhood where it makes sense. This also helps to provide that community feel across all neighborhoods.

I will continue to advocate for this and believe we should be looking at ways to promote “attainable” housing for all life-stages. Reviewing zoning ordinances regularly and allowing alternatives to traditional housing in the future. For instance, we currently have home owners who lease a room, or sub-lease an out-building suitable for occupancy by renters. These are alternative housing options that should be looked at as the city expands westward.