October 1, 2014

Community development department mistreats small business

We hear an awful lot about opening the city of Gardner for business.
Too bad it appears to be nothing more than lip-service where small, local businesses are concerned.
We’ve editorialized before about the shameful treatment many businesses receive at the hands of the local planning commission, and we theorized that may be the result of top-down management that starts with city staff. We’d hoped that might change as new leadership took the helm of the community development department.
The jury has reached a verdict, and it’s not pretty. The changes at the top haven’t led to improvement in how the city treats local businesses.
Look no further than the ongoing saga of Gardner’s sole used car lot.
City staff made a grievous mistake. They bypassed the planning commission and issued the lot, on south Gardner Road, a permit to operate a used car lot on the same parcel as a gas station and liquor store.
Staff issued the permit telling the property and lot owners that despite a six month permit expiration date, a renewal would be a simple formality.
The lot owners used the permit and assurance of a simple formality to purchase cars and a permit from the state to sell vehicles, and for approximately six months it was business as usual.
The lot sold cars, paying sales taxes with each sale.
Five months into the business endeavor, the city staff realized they had issued the permit in error. They sent a letter essentially informing the business it would need to relocate or request rezoning. It gave a short deadline, which city officials have since allowed to lapse, as the lot’s future was to be decided before the planning commission and council.
At every turn, city staff has been there continuously moving the goal posts further from the lot’s owners.  At first, they requested $900 in fees for a rezoning application, which staff quickly put before the planning commission with a recommendation to deny.
Then, planning commissioners suggested that maybe the lot owners should request a special use permit instead. Originally, the commissioners threw around a five-year permit, but city staff soon intervened and said it could be for no longer than two years.
Oh, and by the way, they refused to refund the $900 in fees for the rezoning request, despite initially telling the lot’s owners that was the thing to do to keep their business. City staff has suggested the owners withdraw their application, and request a special use permit. Of course, new fees apply.
The so far six-months’ long process and counting, has been anything but a formality. It’s been a slow-moving train wreck fraught with subtle threats that anything the owners bring before city staff will immediately be denied.
It’s the most classless, graceless handling of a city mistake that we have ever seen.
The staff, it appears, thinks waiving the deadline to remove all of the cars from the lot is a magnanimous decision that wipes their hands clean of robbing a local family of its livelihood and life savings.
It’s shameful and embarrassing that the community development department is behaving this way considering the initial fault lies with them. They have it in their power to correct a mistake and right a wrong, and instead, they seem content to compound the problem.
We shouldn’t be surprised, considering this is the same group that once berated a local business for interior red paint that could be seen through a window from the outside of the building. That paint didn’t meet, “standards.”
If the city truly wants to be open for business, they should do what writers do: Show, don’t tell.
The community isn’t hanging an “open” sign at the entrance to the city. They’re paying a lot of lip service instead.

Comments

  1. Judith Rogers says:

    City staff didn’t make a “grievous mistake” in my opinion – they screwed with another little guy just like they have done for years with average citizens who seem to be the only entities who want to pay their full taxes year after year while the thieves get well taken care of by the lowlifes at City Hall and beyond.

    I am working on Parcel No. 18 out of over 400 parcels in the city of Gardner who have got their slimy “farm” appraisals resulting in tax bills that are so low they are unconsiousable (huge loss of tax revenue to citizens and especially for our schools) and many of these lowlifes have got benefit districts from the citizens of Gardner via the slimy politicians where we are bankrolling them for their infrastructure needs which cost big bucks and it puts the citizens at risk if these jaybirds don’t pay their taxes and/or assessments resulting in the honest, decent citizen having to cover their asses and pay their bills for them. The owners of these properties are big boys and girls living in Leawood, Olathe, Miami, Fl., Lake Quivira, Edgerton and on and on. When you look at these properties you certainly know how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I am writing up each one of these “farm” properties here in Gardner for my own knowledge, however, if the citizens want this upfront, in your face info, please let me know and perhaps we can come up with a way for the citizens to be totally informed on this type of financial rape as I see it and in my opinion. All the information I have on these parcels is taken from public records so there is nothing personal about it on my part – just the TRUTH which so many don’t want to face or have out there, especially City Hall in my opinion. The good ole Citizens for the Future of Gardner censor their Facebook postings and they certainly delete information they don’t want out there for the people to consider (such as people complaining about the adverse affects of the intermodal) but hey since I know how and when that Facebook page was started, it is no surprise to me how they also connive and manipulate to bring about what they and others want.

    Your city government is as transparent as an ole farm pond after a hard rain. The sun very seldom shines on government wheelings and dealings here in Gardner just like they don’t in most towns in the nation. About as raunchy as it can get in my opinion. Numerous years ago I was watching a documentary on PBS which included several well known journalists in the U.S. and they were talking about government corruption. They stated the most corruption is at your most local level such as your city level. I could not believe that at the time (still in my naive stage) since I had always thought it would be in D.C. Well, today I, too, believe most of your corruption is at your neighborhood level and it grows and grows from there on.

    You don’t have problems just with your local school board – you got big problems everywhere you look and only the people can make things better and it will only come from those who haven’t lost their moral compass as so many have.

    Let me know if you want me to give you citizens this info on these so-called “farm” properties…..it is an interesting read but not for the faint-hearted or the “you have got to trust” crowd.

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    I read the following article with interest this morning. The citizens have been bankrolling the public employees’ pension plan and from 2014 to 2017 they are looking at a 47% increase in these costs to address this huge deficit that now has ballooned to over $10 BILLION. This issue is a ticking time bomb for citizens and yet employees like your Gardner City Mgr. don’t just want you to bankroll one pension plan for her but TWO which costs thousands of dollars a year and the costs increase yearly as her salary and all of the employees salaries increase. And your lovely so-called representative Council members rubber stamp these demands with no problem whatsoever but I would say a terrible problem for the citizens is just over the horizon. Think about it – are you voting for a true leader and representative of the people or are you voting for another rubber stamper who is putting the knife in your back about every day of the week and who choke up and never vote NO when they should be doing so. Not leaders by any means but just somebody to show up each week or every other week who end up going along to get along……just the kind of so-called representatives that people like Gilhaus, Drovetta and others work hard to get into and keep in office. The people dig their own poverty graves by going along with all of the conniving and manipulation.

    ****************************************************************************

    KPERS Unfunded Pension Gap Widens
    September 5, 2013 @ 5:54 pm|By: Citycode FinancialNo Comments

    The unfunded liability of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System grew by $1 billion in fiscal 2013 to a total gap of $10.2 billion with market losses in the recent recession.

    The system’s $13.1 billion investment portfolio posted a net return of 14% in fiscal 2013 and 14.5% in fiscal 2012 but that wasn’t enough to overcome deferred losses from a 30% drop in 2008, executive director Alan Conroy said at a session of a joint committee on pensions and benefits Sept. 5.

    A proposal to issue $1.2 billion of taxable pension bonds to resolve some of the unfunded liability died in the legislature’s recent regular session. Increasing interest rates eliminated the potential benefit of such a cash infusion.

  3. This has been going on for years. Most people are just to afraid to say anything.

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