Planner recognizes Basehor’s potential
While working for five-plus years as the city planner in Bonner Springs, Dustin Smith saw limitless potential for that small Wyandotte County municipality. Potential, he believed, not shared by its neighbor to the north, Basehor.
Now, as Smith's vantage point has changed, so has his perception.
"I've been pretty impressed with the development occurring here," said Smith, who began work last week as Basehor's new city planner. "I didn't realize there was this much happening.
"I was really surprised to see everything that's going on here. ... I used to believe Bonner Springs had more potential. Now, I'm not sure that's the case. It may be here."
Smith, 35, who worked in Bonner Springs from 1998 to 2004 and for a year as community development director for the city of Merriam, began work March 27. The Basehor City Council unanimously selected Smith from a field of five other applicants.
His primary responsibilities will be overseeing the Basehor Planning Commission, implementing a revised comprehensive plan and long-term planning.
Experience and familiarity with the area were two advantages Smith had over other candidates, Basehor Mayor Chris Garcia said.
"One of his strengths and one of the things we looked at was that coming from Bonner Springs, he knew the area," said Garcia, noting that Bonner Springs' subdivision regulations are nearly identical to Basehor's and that Smith also is familiar with area developers.
The mayor also cited issues common between Basehor and Bonner Springs -- and those Smith has worked on before -- including the Kansas Highway 7 corridor, U.S. Highway 24-40 and the potential for developing a sewer system for Wolf Creek.
Like the city officials who hired him, Smith sees plenty of similarities between his new and old jobs.
"There are a lot of dovetail issues between the two cities," he said.
After his brief stint in Merriam, which Smith believed would be a career advancer, but ultimately "just did not work out," Smith went to Florida for some consulting work. All the while, he had his eyes on returning home to Kansas.
"I was in Florida, but my family was still here," he said. "I needed something here in Kansas City."
Smith said other priorities for his tenure in Basehor would be training members of the planning commission, shoring up faults in the development review process and bringing zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations into compliance.
Smith is a non-contract employee. His annual salary pays him $52,000 plus benefits.
He and his wife, Stephanie, live in Platte County with their daughters, Amanda and Noa.