February 10, 2016

OPINION: Individuality goes the way of the Dodo bird

Danedri Thompson

There’s a bright orange and blue building in town, and I hope it stays that way. The colors aren’t ones I would choose for anything – shoes, curtains, a rug, a sweater – but they’re unique and interesting.

And when new occupants started painting the building, I had a good idea what sort of establishment would be opening there soon, even though a new sign wasn’t put up until long after the shocking paint had dried.

In the future, however, I fear bright buildings, individuality, charm and diversity will go the way of the Dodo bird in Gardner thanks to new design standards drafted by the wizards on Gardner’s Planning Commission.

The standards, which include giving city officials approval rights in color palettes for new buildings, were based in part on Overland Park’s design standards.

Now Overland Park is well known as one of the best cities to live. However, one magazine – while ranking the city in its Top 10 Places to Live – famously said that Overland Park “feels like it was designed by the folks who invented cubicles.”

Pretty much.

Soon, Gardner will feel that way too, and that’s a shame.

Gardner’s current crop of city officials is well-known  for their lack of  diversity in thought, so I guess it’s no surprise they dream of a community in which  there’s no visual stimulation either.

That’s really not the most offensive part of the new design standards. The folks in Overland Park seem perfectly happy in their cubicles. The human eye can distinguish more than 150 shades of gray, so we can probably distinguish between at least as many shades of beige.

No, the offensive part isn’t how the city will appear. The offensive part is the almost daily, hourly trampling of individual rights by our city government with no voices to the contrary.

The few citizens who regularly attend city council meetings appeared to nod in agreement as council members single-mindedly approved subjective standards without anyone ever making a testimony to individual property rights.

Elected officials should have some say in what affects the public interest. New structures should certainly be architecturally sound. But I fail to see how paint color affects safety or the health of residence.

How is the public best served in requirements that customer entrances must be clearly defined and “highly visible, with at least three of the following elements contributing towards this goal: awnings, porticos or overhangs; recesses/projections; raised parpets or gables; architectural details such as tile work and moldings; change in color or building materials…”

The list goes on and on and on for more than 20 pages detailing nine archetictual design elements including scale, proportion, symmetry, rhythm, transparency – this means windows, expression, materials, color and harmony.

No mention of the fire code.

For a group of appointed officials with the help of hired city staff to sit around for six months and create a completely subjective document by which to demand how private property is used is repulsive. For the citizens at large to pay the salaries of the hired hands that helped in creating the document – Melissa Mundt, assistant city administrator,  said one planner spent more than 25 hours per week for six months – is insane. And the design standards the council passed on Monday are just the beginning. City staff said they’ll now move forward to draw up more stringent signage guidelines.

For another (appointed) body to applaud their work with nary a mention of personal property rights is downright tyrannical.

Bright colors and independent thought aren’t only to be tolerated. They’re to be celebrated.

For the citizens to so docilely accept such behavior from their officials frightens me for our nation’s future.


  1. Oh, Danredi, you are probably giving Drovetta heartburn as we speak………

    I asked for the city to set up a table and a couple or three chairs at the meetings for handicapped people to use so they may take notes, etc. Nope, you, the handicapped or disabled person, have to arrive early each meeting and request that they set up the table for you. I am sure the table is beige. Broxterman has assured me the matter of videotaping all city meetings will be put on a council agenda by the first part of January and we can at last get a Council vote – I would even settle for black and white video if it is cheaper………..

    Many people will shake their heads up and down in approval with what goes on here in Gardner and support the status quo as they go along to get along………….I have found my head going left to right saying hey, wait a minute, let’s talk about this……….

    Different strokes for differnt folks but I always seem to never get many strokes……..much unlike the special interests who get well taken care of…….once in awhile they will throw me a crumb but I am usually having to fight my way to the bird feeder to even get a few seeds………..

  2. GardnerPride says:

    It’s nice to see Danedri write an opinion piece about local issues for a change.

  3. Danedri, since your dad and his friends de-annexed the intermodal out of Gardner and we can’t dictate the colors of the Intermodal buildings, how about you talk to Edgerton and see if they will allow the buildings to be painted BLUE, ORANGE, RED, and PURPLE. Then we can celebrate! What do they care what those buildings look like it will be 8 miles outside the center of Edgerton.

  4. Nah, Ryan, those intermodal buildings and probably others in the area are going to have gang graffiti on them along with the prostitues and drug dealers down the street like a county appraiser told me about in Montana when I called about taxes in 2006. The intermodal was right across the street from her office and she said it was a high crime area but the best was when she told me there was an elementary school also right across the street from the intermodal and the school district owned the land on which that intermodal sat – so much for a school district to protect their small children from the pollution but, of course, that is what you get when you in live in a poor, highly commericial/industrial area – those poor people get the shaft most of the time. It is amazing all of the information people will give you – I certainly didn’t ask about all of this since I had no knowledge of such but she was most forthcoming and helpful. She told me how to bring the appraisal site up on my computer and the map of the properties while I was talking to her which I did – like I said public servants out of state are much more helpful and truly serve their clients who are the people. I always get excited when I come across these individuals since it reminds me all is not lost. She then referred me to a state appraiser who did nothing but appraise railroad properties and he gave me my first lesson on good ole BNSF and spent a lot of time with me over several days and sent me documentation in the mail – he taught me railroads pay little, if any, taxes but do they ever create the costs for the taxpayers.

    Another thing, Ryan, you say Edgerton won’t care about how those buildings will look. Do you think there is a conflict of interest to have Don Roberts, Mayor of Edgerton, as a full time Gardner city employee? That is if he is still an employee – that rather bothers me if he is. Just like you had no conflict of interest when you were on the Elecric Board and was the gangleader on the recall of 3 longtime Gardner citizens. I am sure Drovetta was not involved in that either and how we ended up with our appointed council.

  5. I asked you this on another article Judith and you never replied, so I will copy it here.

    The Intermodal sits in the exact same spot it would have if it had been part of Gardner and yet Edgerton recieves all the tax benefits from it. Please tell me how that is a good deal for Gardner? I would absolutey love for you to explain that to me.

    Please, enlighten me as to how the current arrangement is good for Gardner? Those 3 longtime Gardner citizens cost the city quite a bit of tax money and gained nothing for it. Don’t blame anyone else for the recall except the voters. The people spoke and your three friends were removed as they should have been.

  6. On topic with this article…yeah this is an infringement on our personal liberty, but I’m far more concerned about what the federal goverment is allowed to do under than Patriot Act than the Gardner design standards.

    Danedri, I’d like to pretend you don’t have an axe to grind with the city, but I just can’t. Let’s not make a mountain out of a mole hill here. Ever heard of zoning laws and home owners associations? I don’t like all those things either, but I have to admit Overland Park is a nice place to live. A lot of the crap my neighbors do wouldn’t fly there and I’d be happier for it.

  7. Charlie, there will be huge costs associated with providing the infrastructure for the Intermodal. Over time there will be even bigger costs maintaining the infrastructure. Edgerton’s taxes are about to get astronomically high and they will see very little return from the development because they are providing infrastructure to an entity that pays little/no taxes (BNSF). The city should be financially strapped, so they won’t be able to offer much in the way of abatements that will entice business development.

    On the other hand Gardner still controls much of the land around the Intermodal, and that will be prime development for those damned warehouses that will blanket the once beautiful landscape – where the actual money will be generated. We have the benefit of location, location, location – so let’s hope that we don’t bobble the ball on this one. We must earn money on the development by not providing huge tax abatements, only small incentives. We should cheapen development costs, but not pay for them altogether. Remember, it is beneficial for those warehouses to be located there, so location is the commodity. Don’t be nervous, this kind of negotiation will separate the men from the boys.

    Frankly, I was disappointed with the move to de-annex the development, but I believe that the contracts were written so that if the Gardner City Council didn’t honor the 80% sweetheart deal that the Lehman/Drovetta/Winters/Shultz council agreed to the current council was legally obligated to de-annex. I think they ran a campaign of not honoring that deal. To that end they were a council of their word.

    I’m not happy or excited about the development – but you aliens seem to be. I don’t believe that it will be as great as Ryan thinks it will be, and I don’t think we’ll cheat death daily as Judith thinks we will – but I think we are going to have to make the best of the hand we’ve been dealt because, like it or not, this b*%ch is coming.

    Finally, I remember the article that called Overland Park the city designed by people who brought you cubicles. This makes me want to paint my house teal before the law takes effect. And I don’t even like teal.

  8. If there are so many people who disagree with the new design standards of the City how about this… GO TO A CITY COUNCIL MEETING!!!!!!!!!!

  9. How about videotaping ALL city meetings and placing them on the city’s website so citizens may involve themselves in city government at their convenience and perhaps you might get more involved as they should be and you could also have an archives of these video tapings so you could refer back to a particular meeting when needed. Why don’t they allow citizens to ask questions and/or make comments right before any new business item is voted on and the city and council has submitted all of their information? Should the citizens not have the ability at that time to have the last word after they have heard everything said on the subject by those in charge – maybe they have new or more information that has not even been placed on the table – when City Hall continues to deny this simple request, to me they are not looking for citizen involvement – they are wanting to get another item rubber stamped.

    These intermodals and warehouse city projects are one of the worst things that could happen to a community in my opinion and that is based not just on hearsay but thousands of hours of research over the past five years when I first heard about these horror stories. Every citizen should fully realize the power of the railroad and when you let them in you no longer own your town, they own you, call the shots and you will be forever running to meet all of their wants and needs and the costs will be astronomical. Three council members did me and all of the citizens the biggest favor in the world to have the courage to say this is NOT a good deal for the people – they actually GOVERNED for the people and not for the special interests and what do they get? The absolute knife in the back brought about by liars and haters and the people who bought into the lies and the hate. Back in 2005 instead of the red carpet put down for all of these thieves, they should have said No Thank You and stated we will provide no financial or other support for your project – this done by smart cities across the U.S. such as Olathe. Those thieves would have been moving on down the road just like they did when they found out they weren’t going to get a deal here in Gardner – they scampered on down the road to Edgerton who were greedy and stupid enough also to open their doors to hell for their citizens. You may not agree with my opinion but I say, you wait and see but again, that intermodal may be in the same place but it doesn’t have Gardner’s name preceeding its name and all of the adverse affects by having ownership of that project.

    Citizens need to be paying more attention now as the Gardner’s City Hall gang continues to not protect the citizens as they should as they continue to make the backroom deals, many without taking a vote on issues in an Open Meeting which to me is in violation of the Open Meetings act and you would know that if you watched the County Commissioner meetings, increasing the handouts to the thieves who want their deals when they should be totally dismantling the handouts because they don’t need to due to the location of Gardner – just like that deal given on the Coleman warehouse – that should never have occurred – they are saving thousands and thousands on lower transportation costs just because of the location and they kept over $625,000 in their pockets just for the year of 2010 because of that 50% tax incentive (huge loss of school tax dollars) and us providing low interest financing plus all of the handouts they get from the state of Kansas where we lose more money. Your politicians aren’t taking care of you, the average citizen, they are putting you in the poor house and destroying your quality of life. Citizens across the U.S. recognize this and are still wearing their T-shirts and marching to object to this type of bull hockey – the people are smart but the special interests and the worthless politicians don’t work for them.

    I recognize the importance of city codes but to me Gardner has already let the gorilla out of the cage and on top of that Gardner has had codes on the books for years that they don’t enforce and what good is a code if it is not enforced just like our immigration laws.

  10. Billie, you are right in saying that all we can do now is make the best of the hand we’ve been dealt, but I disagree with you on some of the other points.

    Edgerton owns basically all the land up to Gardner city limits. Have you seen where the Edgerton city limit signs are out on Waverly? I have to assume any warehouses and associated facilities are going to be built on the Edgerton side because I don’t believe we have enough room down there to build them in Gardner city limits. Plus I don’t see why BNSF would want to put any facilities on Gardner city limits at this point in time. So, I really don’t think we are going to get any piece of that. Sure, we are going to get some other businesses coming into town. But how many will we loose to Edgerton or Olathe? Gardner now has a pretty distinct anti-growth reputation which is going to hurt us in attracting new businesses.

    Also, I do know that some of the cost of that infrastructure was going to be subsidized. I admit I’m not sure on all the specific details, but I went to a meeting a few months back where people were complaining about all the planned road improvements that went away and the response from the city was basically since the intermodal went out of the city limits, so did the funding for those projects. I don’t think Edgerton is going to be as strapped for cash as you believe.

    I think part of this is maybe a matter of perspective. I am aware I live the in the Kansas City area and I don’t mind it at all. Our integration into the KC metro is inevitable. Just look how close Olathe is. So why not embrace it?

    I think a lot of people just want to live in Gardner and let Gardner be Gardner. I can appreciate the sentimate of wanting to live in a small community and not wanting the intermodal here, I really can. But I just don’t believe it is in the cards for Gardner to stay a small seperate community. I’m afraid if you want that you will need to move a little farther out.

    I don’t think having the intermodal is paradise or doom either. But I think we had only two choices, accept the intermodal or give it to Edgerton, and I think we made the wrong one.

  11. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    Danedri’s article states, “No mention of the fire code.” Fire Code is covered by Title 15 Buildings and Construction of the Gardner Municipal Code. The new design standards ordinance adds to or amends chapters within Title 18 Zoning of the Gardner Municipal Code.


    The introduction page of the Gardner Design Standards document states the criteria are to be “used in the City’s review of project proposals. The purpose of these standards is to promote diverse, yet harmonious, design. The standards encourage unique architectural expression and do not exclude any particular architectural styles. The Gardner Design Standards are intended to:
    * encourage high quality building design that complements the architecture, landscapes, history and culture of Gardner
    * ensure the functionality of the built environment
    * encourage creativity in design
    * clarify procedures used in reviewing development proposals
    These requirements provide a framework in which diverse solutions may be measured and approved.”

    Therefore, I suppose future residential, commercial and industrial buildings coated with charming bright blue and orange (or red and yellow) paint jobs could be permitted if the majority of seven Planning Commission members, followed by the majority of five City Council members, vote their approval.

    And docile citizens accept such behavior from their officials.

  12. December 16 2010

    The city of Bell extracted tens of thousands of dollars from plumbers, carpet cleaners, even people scavenging for bottles and cans, by seizing vehicles for alleged code violations and then pressuring the owners to pay arbitrary fines.

    The complete article can be viewed at:

  13. Constantly linking articles on scandles in Bell, California does not make Gardner into Bell.

  14. Sure wish people would do extensive research on communities in or near other intermodals across the U.S.

    My research on communities in Will County, Ill. where the BNSF Elwood intermodal is tells me that the communites who gave the most sweet deals had city mill levies as much as double what cities had who were not giving the sweet deals. Several cities said we will give no incentives to these intermodal related projects since we don’t have to due our location which is close to the intermodal which already cuts your costs and gives you an incentive to come here – their mill levies were much lower since they were not giving away the people’s tax revenue to the thieves. But what do we get here in Gardner – leaders who up the handout to the thieves – that should tell you who they govern for. I still have the article where Richard Allen of the Allen Group said having those warehouses right adjacent to the intermodal is like owning “ocean front property” – he knew he could get those warehouses leased, make money and he could sell the deal because he knew he could show how these companies would cut their livery expenses and he could pass on the sweet deals he had negotiated with worthless politicians such as how Drovetta and others were willing to have the people only get 15 cents on the dollar of tax revenue and Edgerton only gave the people 25 cents on the dollar.

    Let’s say you had a couple by the name of Carol and Dave Duncan who had been invited to a party at the Foster home and the Sullivan home for the same evening. Carol and Dave go to the Fosters and say: If you want us to come and to stay at your party rather than going to the Sullivans, you will have to pay us $100. They then go to the Sullivans and say: If you want us to come and to stay at your party rather than going to the Fosters, you will have to pay us $200. Why would the Fosters or the Sullivans even want Carol and Dave in their home to bleed them dry – what does Carol and Dave bring to the table except blackmail – what good ever comes with dealing with blackmailers – if you do, you become part of their wrongdoing and nothing ever good comes out of associating with people or entities of this kind in my opinion – they are takers and think of no one but themselves and will not contribute to the needs of the community unless absolutely forced to and will transfer their tax burden to the citizens every day of the week via worthless politicians who allow it. Then for PR they will have a big news media event showing how they have given $1,000 to the community for this or that while they have sucked millions from the people of that community.

    The choice is yours as to what kind of integrity, ethics, character, honesty, etc. you want being practiced in your community and starts with each and every citizen and what kind of representatives they support and vote for.

  15. I post articles on Bell, California to warn the people here they better pay attention to business or you will have and experience what those people of Bell, California are going thru right now because they made that mistake of not doing their job. Apathy of the people does them no good whatsoever but allows a fertile ground for the criminals.

  16. People, wake up before it gets worse.The Government is ahcteing you to blindly do whatever they tell you. They’re not profiling strangers, they’re shaking down citizens. America, America, what have you done you have elected the very people that are setting us up to fall. BHO was groomed for this time, his puppet-master is George Soros, Pres. Obama’s czars are stripping the greatness from our country and you are cheering them on; YOU ARE THE TRAITORS!!!

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