Matt Kostelnik, an Economic Development Specialist with Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments, speaks Thursday, Oct. 13 at the last of a series of three meetings about the comprehensive plan in Laurie. (photo by Vicki Wood)
by Vicki Wood
A group of 20 residents, business owners, and city representatives attended the last in a series of three meetings presented by Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments Thursday, Oct. 13 at Laurie City Hall. Economic Development Specialist Matt Kostelnik met with individuals and answered questions for an hour and a half about the city’s Comprehensive Plan developed by LOCLG. The majority attendees reported not to have attended previous meetings. So, Kostelnik spent time bringing them up to speed about where the Comprehensive Plan is taking Laurie regarding grants, infrastructure updates, and future economic development and housing plans.
The consensus of the room was favorable to enhancing the city with new features such as the planned soccer complex at the Hillbilly Fairgrounds. Kostelnik questioned the people in the room about some key points in the development plans to assist LOGLG in gauging what the Laurie residents’ desires are for more enhancements.
Answers still focus on more activities for children beyond the movie theater, bowling alley, and indoor aquatic center. LOCLG had already identified these facilities, along with the Hillbilly Fairgrounds and Laurie City Park as being attractive to commercial developers of which Nexsite has gathered population data for the city as ordered by the Laurie Board of Aldermen. Nexsite works closely with LOCLG to advertise the possibilities for commercial developers such as hotel chains showing interest in building on the west side.
Citizens felt, under infrastructure upgrades, for which LOCLG is applying for grants on the city’s behalf, that traffic control is a problem and needs to be worked into the plan. Kostelnik said both Nexsite and LOGLG have metered traffic at 68,000 unique travelers per day through Laurie on Main Street (Highway 5), in a town of a population of approximately 1,000 according to the last census. Nexsite indicates the true population is much higher since 2020. This is a point of discussion upon which residents didn’t agree.
“We are a bedroom town, the majority of the population is 55 and over,” Planning and Zoning’s Commissioner Timothy Faber said. Kostelnik agreed, but other citizens advised that there were more children in Laurie than people think.
Faber asked Kostelnik about the plans for affordable housing and the definition of “affordable.” Kostelnik said $200,000 to $250,000 for a new 2000-square-foot home built for young families looking at Laurie to relocate.
It would be up to developers and the city board of aldermen whether or not a subdivision plan would be included in the Comprehensive Plan.
Kostelnik has identified several real estate properties that could be used to develop what they call “workforce housing.”
Planning and Zoning Commissioner Chuck Folker advised the group that was the average price for an “affordable new home,” as many move to the lake area from other states where they have sold homes for as much as twice that price and have “a pocket full of cash to spend.”
As for economic development, he inquired if the group desired more businesses. One said he was happy with the way things are, the majority were okay with a light industrial zone, and one said she didn’t want to see Laurie turn into St. Louis. They said they also didn’t want to see their tax dollars go to fund tourist businesses. One lady voiced that the loss of the stand-alone Post Office meant businesses closed in Laurie. They also voiced that infrastructure such as roads and traffic flow needed to be fixed before addressing new building opportunities. One citizen said that LOCLG shouldn’t make the plan center around the elderly population, but that they could plan it around children.
Kostelnik explained to the mostly new attendees that the purpose of the Comprehensive Plan was majoring on statistical information gathered to show to prospective developers and to have a plan in place when they do come to Laurie desiring to build.
He said the plan is designed for a 20-year objective for development, but realistically the plan extends to 10 years with developing trends. After discussing residential improvement tax opportunities, Kostelnik closed the meeting by gathering suggestions from residents about the desire to have community involvement in the final decision-making of the Comprehensive Plan. Kostelnik agreed to hold a public forum to view the final plan.