Industrial park moves forward
Taking about as many twists and turns as an Alfred Hitchcock movie, the Basehor City Council eventually reached a decision allowing the rezoning of land slated for the Wolf Creek Industrial Park during its meeting Monday night.
Steve Miles, owner of Miles Excavating, a Basehor company, petitioned city officials to rezone his 95.3-acre parcel at 150th Street and State Avenue from a rural residential use to general business and light industrial uses.
In a two-part decision and despite the pleas of neighboring property owners, the City Council voted 4-1 to allow rezoning from residential to general business. City Council member Iris Dysart, who wanted to send the issue back to the Basehor Planning Commission, voted against the proposal.
In the second and albeit more confusing portion of the rezoning request, the City Council voted 3-2 allowing the residential to light industrial switch in land uses. City Council members Bill Hooker and Dysart voted against the rezoning.
Allowing the rezoning of the first parcel, a section of ground fronting State Avenue, was nearly a consensus view of the City Council; all agreed the land is ideal for commercial and retail business.
However, the second rezoning, land south of the commercial and retail strip, was more difficult to decide.
Nearby property owners, residents living north and south of the proposed industrial park, spoke against the rezoning Monday night. Opponents said the development would adversely affect their lives and property values.
Martha Heimbaugh, a Briarwood resident, questioned the land switch on its rezoning merits, calling the request spot zoning.
"As you can see, this property is surrounded by residential (properties)," said Heimbaugh, pointing to a map she prepared illustrating the zoning proposal.
"My recommendation to this council is you reject this zoning on wise zoning practices," she added.
Joe Nick, Sr., who lives across the street from the development, also spoke in opposition of the proposal and gave city officials a protest petition with 35 signatures on it.
"We the landowners are at your mercy, we have no one else to turn to," Nick said.
A littany of opponents spoke against the development Monday night.
However, there was some support for the development. Bill Schulte, director of Leavenworth Area Development, and Linda Bohnsack, a Leavenworth County land planner, said the proposed industrial park would provide a significant boost to the city's tax base.
"You need these future opportunities to increase your tax base," Schulte said.
"It looks like a very good development, financially for Basehor in the future," Bohnsack said.
Miles countered against claims his development would not be upscale.
"I'm spending a lot of money putting a building in there, and I don't want a bunch of junk around me," the embattled developer said. "I'm going to do my damndest to make sure it looks nice."
The consensus among City Council members was to allow the rezoning from residential to general business throughout the development. However, a proposal to allow general business throughout the industrial park was approved, 3-2, but that was not enough to pass the proposal.
It required a two-thirds majority because the proposal to allow general business throughout the development was overturned on a previous recommendation by the Basehor Planning Commission.
Only five council members were present Monday night (mayor Joseph Scherer was out of town), and the 3-2 vote didn't carry the necessary weight.
City Council member Keith Sifford voted against allowing general business throughout because he felt the Planning Commission made the correct recommendation.
"As City Council members we're here to represent Basehor," Sifford said. "I believe this is what's best for Basehor. As far as the future economic development of Basehor goes, this is what's best."
Another motion, to allow the rezoning from residential to light industrial as is, was made and approved, 3-2. Since the new motion congealed with the Planning Commissions recommendation, a two-thirds vote was not required.
Council member John Bonee summed up the rezoning issue.
"It's a fine line between what your head tells you and what your citizens are asking you to do," he said.