A local trucking company can expand on the western edge of Gardner. Council members approved a rezoning request for 5-Star Trucking that will allow the company to make improvements to its industrial property, despite its proximity to residential housing.
Debate centered around the company’s planned expansion onto what was formerly a vacant, residential lot adjacent to 5-Star’s property at 604 W. Main St.
Planning commissioners recommended the council approve rezoning the vacant lot from residential to industrial. That group debated at length about the type of fencing that would surround the truck parking and storage lot.
Council members, however, discussed whether they should allow the rezoning of a residential lot for industrial uses in that area.
Planner Amy Kynard told the council that a recent U.S. 56 Highway Corridor Study suggested the area may be better suited for uses other than industrial. However, she said, the rezoning coupled with the company’s plan to upgrade its existing facility will be an improvement upon what’s already there.
“From a planning standpoint, it’s not ideal,” she said.
But, she explained, industrial usage already exists in the area, including 5-Star Trucking Company’s existing location, a warehouse and a plastics company.
“This is not a straight-forward case,” she said.
City staff reviewed 5-Star Trucking Company’s request for the rezoning for several months. Kynard said the decision staff made to recommend approval to the planning commission and then to the city council was not an easy one.
“It’s a situation that you can look at in a variety of ways,” she said. “Staff did land on it’s better suited for (industrial) than (residential).”
The vacant residential lot in question is surrounded on three sides by industrial zoning. The zoning- change will create a flatter, straighter line of industrial property that will abut residential property on only one side.
Council member Larry Fotovich voted against the rezoning and asked whether industrial zoning provided the best tax value for the city.
“We have specific criteria we look at and the tax consequences should not be part of the equation,” city administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee told the council.
Kynard said council members could deny the rezoning if they believed 5-Star Trucking Company’s expansion would decrease the value of other property values in the area, however.
“They’re planning on improving what’s there already. I don’t think it will negatively impact property owners,” Kynard said.
In other business, council members:
• adopted a resolution authorizing the refinancing of a series of general obligation bonds, or existing city debt. According to city finance director Laura Gourley, the refinancing will result in 4.7 percent in interest cost savings over the life of the bond.
• approved an agreement between the city of Gardner and New Century AirCenter to sell bulk water. The city has sold water to the air center for dozens of years, but its most recent contract expired in December 2011. Under the terms of the new contract, the city will earn about 30 cents per 1,000 gallons of water sold. The air center also has a water purchasing agreement with the city of Olathe.