February 14, 2016

Planning Commission debates patio at Austin’s

Amy Cunningham

With a stern lecture to the project architect and the owner of the Moonlight Commons strip mall, at Tuesday night’s planning commission meeting, commissioners had the opportunity to slap the owners of Austin’s Bar and Grill on the wrists for not following approved plans to a T on

The metal window supports and the faux stone at the base of Austin’s outdoor patio section were areas of concern for Gardner Planning Commissioners. Staff photo by Danedri Thompson

construction of a $100,000 patio added to the restaurant.

The smoking patio was added to the restaurant last fall in response to a statewide smoking ban that went into effect in 2010.

“I’m disappointed that this is back before us,” said Jason Burnett, chairman of the planning commission.  He said the commission initially approved plans for the structure back in June of 2010.

“There are a couple of issues that I saw.  The first thing that really stands out is a gate that is almost always open and blocks the sidewalk,” Burnett pointed out.  He also took issue with the partial loss of a parking spot on the site and said that it is now suitable only for motorcycle parking.

“…since this is not what we discussed in the past…our goal is to have it look and meet our guidelines.”

Commissioners also noted several change orders that were not part of the initially approved structure.

Planning commissioners asked that the gate have a self-closing mechanism installed and the parking spot be marked with clear signage to show patrons that it is suitable for motorcycle parking only. Commissioners also pointed out that bar owners installed removable glass panels on the patio that are held in place with metallic colored braces – braces that they feel are unpleasing to the eye.

The group debated the aesthetic appeal of the materials utilized on the base of the structure and the decorative metal tubing that owners plan to use as arches near the tops of the windows – commissioners are pushing for more tubing or other decorative items to be installed around the base of the windows to bring the look into balance. Finally, owners were asked to address the red colored support beams which draw attention and take away from the visual appeal of the structure.

Phil DiVilbiss, owner of the Moonlight Commons strip mall where Austin’s is located, said that the materials used at the base of the structure didn’t match the original plans because they were discontinued by the manufacturer and no longer available.  He said contractors were able to match the faux stone used at the bottom of the rest of the strip mall to construct the patio.

DiVilbiss also pointed out that the glass panels were not permanent and that they could be removed as the weather warranted.

He said the owners installed the panels to protect patrons from the elements during  harsh winters.  He also said that owners would be happy to install a metal pole in the parking space to prevent cars from attempting to park there and that the gate was scheduled to have the automatic closure mechanism installed.

“Without this (patio), Austin’s wouldn’t be here,” said DiVilbiss.  He told commissioners that the smoking ban has already put a restaurant out of business in another strip mall he owns in Lawrence.  “…we’re not here to argue, I’m here to get this approved.

“I’m going to be honest with you, this irritates me to no end,” said Commissioner Dan Popp, “because this is what we approved and this is what we got.”

In other business commissioners:

• agreed to forward to the Gardner City Council a recommendation to renew a 10-year conditional use permit for Santa Fe Self Storage to operate a storage facility at 1060 E Santa Fe Street.

• moved forward with design plans for a Casey’s General Store to be located at Center Street Commons on the corner of Gardner Road and 183rd Street. Commissioners added two additional stipulations to the plan; they decided not to allow vending machines on the property and required the company to provide a handicapped-accessible connection on the north sidewalk.  Planning commission also approved the final plat for the development.

• reviewed a presentation by City Engineer Celia Duran, water and wastewater manager James

Mervin and parks and recreation director Jeff Stewart on upcoming Capital Improvement Plans for the City of Gardner.

Duran said that, while many projects need attention in the upcoming years, the city has experienced a “significant decline in revenue and property taxes available for projects.”
“…we’ve planned and we know what we need, now we need to get the revenue,” she said.

• agreed to move forward with Phase III of the Bethel Estates, rental apartment for seniors age 55 and older, located at 335 W. Madison Street.


  1. And what or who runs off business?????? Did you know that metallic colored braces are unpleasing to the eye????? Guess I’ll have to drive by and see for myself how unpleasing those metallic colored braces are to my eyes…………..the Beasley Bunch must not think they are unpleasing to their eyes since this is their party place…………at least it was at the time of their recall party…….still have that photo……….think this patio wasn’t built then so maybe they don’t go to Austin’s anymore due these pesky, unsightly metallic colored braces…….

  2. I read an article in Newsweek last week that revealed the Beasley bunch was responsible for the filed intelignece that concluded there were WMD in Iraq.

  3. Ecosto says: “You folks can keep making up stories as much as you like……..”. Looks like you are the pro of making up stories, Ecosto………I know you love to drink and eat the Drovetta propaganda…………

  4. What is Ecosto smoking, shooting up, and/or drinking???

  5. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    “what or who runs off business??????” Fortunately for Austin’s, it was not the health inspector on the day of this photo.

    However, just viewing the expanded photo above is enough to run off my patronage. Seeing the floor level weep holes used for squeegee drainage of spilled drinks goop, food scraps and trash forced out across the slim remains of the original sidewalk, over the curb and onto the parking lot (which now serves as the walkway to the front door) is not my idea of a pleasant invitation to dine at this establishment.

  6. Terminator says:

    So the owners of Austin’s made a $100,000 investment to stay in our community despite the loss in revenue from the new smoking ban (implemented by the state) and our wise and all-knowing planning commission is pi$$ing about metal supports on temporary windows, the color of support beams, decorative metal work and the materials on the façade? I ate lunch at Austin’s today just so I could check out this eyesore of a structure and I couldn’t see one thing wrong with it.

    Perhaps these jokers have too much time on their hands. Thanks, Austin’s, for building a quality establishment and providing quality food to Gardner residents. If only the planning commission could see the forest for the trees.

  7. Terminator says:

    And apparently Jerry and Ecosto are drinking the same Kool-Aid that City Hall puts out. Tastes like a load of bull$hip to me.

  8. No vending machines at Casey’s seems a little nit picky, too. Sometimes it is quicker to get a pop without running into a store.

  9. The city of Gardner gives me a headache quite often. They require this convenience store to have a handicapped parking space on the north sidewalk of their store and yet when I asked the City to set up a table and two or three chairs at each City Council Meeting for the use of any handicapped person who would be attending, I am told no they can’t do that and I would have to arrive EARLY AT EACH AND EVERY MEETING and pretty much beg at that time for this request for help for the handicapped such as myself.

    Then they are kung ho with wanting one of the largest railyards in the world within their city limits with the accompanying millions of trucks and costs that are astronomical that will never end but sit there and complain about a present business that has used metallic colored braces. They will gladly put me in an early grave and jeopardize the proper growth of healthy lungs of our children due to the pollution we will be seeing from that railyard and truck city but they complain about metallic colored braces…………..the Good Lord is going to have to send me another dose of patience like Job had – my supply is running out that I presently have……..

  10. @ Judith says:

    I’m sure the feeling is mutual Judith.

  11. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    @Terminator — Like most folks, my wife and I appreciate having a variety of places to eat without having to leave town. Both being retirees on a fixed income, we probably don’t eat out as often as others may, but when we do venture out we hope for a pleasant environment, good service and decent meal. In recent years, we have patronized 28 eating establishments in Gardner and have generally been satisfied with each experience. We have two pizza parlors and one bar and grill yet to visit; sadly, four other places closed their doors before we had the opportunity to visit them.

    Perhaps I was a tad sarcastic with my comment on the photo. However, our sole visit a couple of years ago to Austin’s was unfortunately also less than spectacular. Our young server had to be asked twice to bring us normal condiments that were missing from our table and she never checked on us again until we had to flag her down for our bill long after we finished eating.

    Although less than pleased with our meal and service, we understand these things can happen anywhere from time to time, so I am sure we will eventually patronize Austin’s again, regardless their exterior architectural details. Obviously, others are quite satisfied with the place, as the parking lot has been fairly packed every time I have driven by, and I hope their success continues.

    Sorry, I only drink milk or water, so I am unable to comment on the City Hall Kool-Aid.

  12. It’s nice you backed off your comments a bit; I eat at Austin’s regularly and enjoy the food and service. As to condiments, they’re on a separate table. As to the “drain holes,” I’m sure Austin’s would have preferred not to have to spend $100,000 to stay in business; you can thank our ever helpful legislature for that. Maybe Austin’s could close their doors like Bob and Dee’s – after installing a very expensive ventillation system as required, only to have the law changed after the fact. Do they get a refund? How long do you think that building will set empty? What about the steak house? Are those 2 empty buildings aesthetically pleasing?

  13. The city of Gardner has some good employees but the tension is usually high between myself and some in the administrative staff and the elected officials due to me always giving them the opportunity to do the right thing and they seem to have a real problem with doing that, however, the choice is theirs and it won’t stop me from taking an interest in our city and our citizens best interests. I have grown a thick hide the last several years which is necessary. If you want decent government in this day and age, you really have to fight for it and it will never occur by apathy of the people.

  14. @ Judith says:

    What is wrong with the Beasley Bunch supporting our local businesses? Good for them. That is more than we can say about you Judith. You don’t support the city in anything and you’re a burden on it’s resources. I would love to see the labor cost the city has to budget for to keep up with your requests.

  15. Please tell me the number of requests I have made each year. When was the last time you took the time to get information on how your city is run or whether entites are being billed correctly or know how many dollars the takers are siphoning from the taxpayers and citizens who always pay their full taxes. You think it is a good idea to just let the power players have full control with no checks and balances – think that will bring you good government – about as good as what Bell, Vernon, Victorville, Ca. and other cities end up with due to the apathy of the citizens.

    Citizens have been very well paid by my efforts and the time I spend working to protect them.

  16. Like I said you’re a burden on the city and the community.

  17. And like I said you don’t know what you are talking about and I am not a burden to my community and never have been.

  18. You think by micro managing the city staff, the city politicians, the city businesses, and citizens who dare voice their opinion, that you’re helping the community, well you’re not. You’re a burden, a bottle neck, and you’re not very nice.

  19. I don’t micro manage a thing because those worthless politicians never, never, never listen to me since they don’t work for me. I am helping DECENT people of the community and you will never have me think differently on that subject but, hey, it is a free country and you are entitled to your opinion – I just don’t agree with you.

    P.S. Again, tell me how many requests I have made to the city. Put up or shut up.

  20. Besides spouting about worthless politicians and how the city is going to tax us into the grave or how businesses are going to kill us with their cancer causing pollution and how they don’t pay their fair share of taxes or private citizen’s careers and or financial situations, name ONE positive thing you’ve done for Gardner.

    I’m just looking for one. Did you give to the food pantry? Maybe contribute to an elementary fund raiser? Grace a local business with your presence? Maybe say hi to your neighbor?

  21. Judith, I’ve been reading your words for years and have rarely posted because I know it won’t make a difference with you. I’m a decent person in this community and please tell me how your opinions on matters help me. Quite frankly, the large majority of the time I disagree with your opinions because they are very opinionated. I’d prefer to let my own voice speak.

    Now if you post you are entitled to your opinion and you want to make your views known to the government, then by all means go for it. Do not say you are protecting the DECENT people of Gardner by forcing your opinions on them.

  22. I am protecting DECENT people who share my opinion and I even protect citizens who disagree with me such as yourself – on more than one occasion my works have brought you big time tax revenue you would have never got if it wasn’t for me or I stopped practices that would adversely affect you I don’t honk my horn about all of my good deeds that I have done thru my lifetime, in fact, I do most of my work anonymously if I possibly can. Spread that hate you have for me because I speak my mind or have a viewpoint or opinion different than yours and it shows what kind of person you are. You walk in my shoes through all of my volunteer work thru the years and all I have personally given financially that no one knows about and our problems will be fewer. But if you think your hateful words are going to stop me, you have another think coming. My hide is really thick and personally I have too much to do to help others to be spending my time worrying about your sorry rearends. But I will say one thing, I am not a politican and I do not make a practice of enabling or supporting wrongdoers or wrongdoing. You will not smear me into silence in order to get your way if I can help it.

  23. Goodness gracious. Now she has developed a Messiah complex!

  24. I might also mention I post under my real name and all know who I am rather the lowlife, cowardly, backstabbers on here posting under fake usernames. You call that DECENT when you can’t even be a big enough person to take ownership of your words??????????? I certainly don’t.

  25. Charlie K says:

    It makes me very sad to read this article. The City of Gardner is doing their best to drive away another business and it looks like some of the commentors here support them.

    Perhaps we should pass a new ordinance which outlaws any building that is not a dwelling of some sort? Send all the gas stations and restaurants and stores away to Olathe and Edgerton. I love driving 10 mintues to shop or get a decent meal. Nothing in Gardner but houses I say! Get rid of the schools while we are it. As Judith says they are a burden to us always asking for money and they won’t even tell us the drop out rate! Drive them all out with pitchforks and torches!

  26. Samuel K says:

    I’m puzzled why a business would locate in your town. The owners would have been better served to take the $100000 and move to Texas which welcomes businesses.

  27. @ Judith says:

    Again, one specific POSITIVE thing you have done for Gardner.

  28. Jennifer says:

    @Judith – You’re really going to bash someone for posting under a fake name, Panda aka Pandazinger??????

    This is a PERFECT example of why you have no credibility and folks dismiss you as a bitter person. Use your skills for good instead of evil, JR.

  29. (SMILE)………the Gardner Beasley Bunch haters are out strong today but hey, that’s their job……….perhaps there is going to be a full moon tonight……….

  30. Durn, I should have said the lowlife, cowardly backstabbing Beasley Bunch who don’t take ownership of their words or their donations………..(SMILE)……….be sure to get that SMILE I am sending you………..they love to hide behind their computer screens while throwing their hate……….what goes around, comes around……..Bacteria is sometimes the only culture some people have……….especially those who are backstabbers and cowards……..

  31. Carol Peterson says:

    The planning commission and the community development department should be figuring out ways to entice business to the city; not brow-beating a successful business. Their awesome power unwhelms me.

    I think its clear to everyone that gardner does not want businesses to help with the tax base. They prefer residents continue to pay and pay and pay and pay.

    Oh, by the way, judith, also known in the KCStar as panda/pandazinger/jj, it will be hard to see the moon unless you get your head out.

  32. watchdogq says:

    Thanks, Judith, for keepin’ ’em in check. Someone needs to hold them accountable. Keep up the good work.

  33. Yes, Judith!!! Right on!!! There are those of us that appreciate your posts/info.

  34. Hugo Chavez says:

    I love Judith…she’s hot!

  35. (SMILE)………….

  36. Samuel K says:

    Did your mayor appoint the commission members as well?

  37. Building codes and nit picking says:

    I agree that we need parameters to follow when building/developing businesses. But we know of several business owners that have been burdened by the relentless demands of the city. One business decided to not move/expand due to the sluggishness of the system. Another one had to postpone opening their doors for months due to waiting on approval on each item…causing them to lose revenue. I think the Austin’s patio looks nice – I think it is way more attractive than the makeshift patio Wally’s attempted to put up. I know the city has shut down that patio, but still – if you are going to do something, do it right – like Austin’s did.

  38. All business owners, developers, big biz, etc. need to take a mentoring class from Paul Licausi. He could train you as to know how you could get what you want from the city of Gardner or probably any city, county or state for that matter and have the taxpayers pay the costs and take the risks. Now if you want to lose some more tax revenue, see Paul Licausi.

    Then if you are looking at things from a corrupt city’s side, key in Rizzo or Bell, California into your computer search engine. Ole Rizzo could show you how to make money using your city codes and code enforcement but the little business guy would really be taken to the cleaners.

    But both of these methods sure don’t do much for the average citizen or business owner – it all catches up with you when you aren’t doing the right thing but as I have said before, you can give people the opportunity to do the right thing time and time again in today’s world but finding that is hard these days.

    Election coming up – you going to vote for some more of the status quo guys who were involved in the recall which was filled with lies and hate and not wanting to meet the campaign finance law and still haven’t with their anonymous donations or are you going to look a little deeper and try to find some candidates who have some decency to them.

    But one thing is for sure – if there is citizen apathy and loss of moral values from parties on both sides of the fence, you will get lousy government and you will continue to take care of the wrongdoers and it costs you in numerous ways.

  39. Hope things don’t get this bad with city codes and code enforcement – http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bell-code-enforcement-20101216,0,4958937.story?page=1

    I do know one thing – the poor and the illiterate really get hit hard by dishonest people.

    Apathy of the people and eyes that are not looking and heads that turn away from the wrongdoing will bring about corrupt government and lots of suffering.

  40. Nimbykiller says:

    I think some of you may misunderstand the role of a planning commission in a city. They do not have a direct role in bringing business to the city. They are there to make sure that what is being built falls within the development guidelines set forth by the city council. In every city a committee is normally put together to develop design guidelines, zoning ordinances, comprehensive plan, etc. These items then must ALWAYS go through a public hearing at the planning commission where the citizens get to ask questions, make comments and the like. Then and only then do they get forwarded to the council with a recommendation of approval or denial.

    Yes, those people are appointed by the Mayor, but they have to be approved by the council before they can sit on the commission. They do not get paid for their service. It is a completely volunteer position.

    I have watched the city’s Planning commission for many years now, and I have to say the people who are on this commission love their city. They are objective and review everything by the ordinances and guidelines when something comes before them. They ask questions that sometimes I would not know to ask. I have not seen anything political in any of their decisions, and that is the why I go and keep track of what is going on. I am an informed citizen. I do pay attention to the facts and while I do not like some things the commission does, they have always explained it during the meeting why they have to go in that direction. I have seen too many commissions use political bullying to develop what they want.

    Our planning commission is nothing like Olathe’s and Overland park’s planning commissions. I believe they are 100% political in my view. I also believe our commissioners are there to do what they can to make Gardner a beautiful place without being political. I encourage you to visit a planning commission meeting or two before making judgment calls on what they do. A newspaper article can only give you a snapshot of what really transpired. You might be surprised.

  41. “A newspaper article can only give you a snapshot of what really transpired. You might be surprised.”

    Especially if it comes from this newspaper. Their “snapshots” are generally out of focus!

  42. Videotape ALL city meetings and citizens will have a front row seat anytime they please……………..

Comments do not necessarily reflect those of The Gardner News, or staff. By posting, commentators assume all liability. Please contact webmaster to report comments that infringe on copyrights, or are of a profane or libelous nature. Webmaster reserves the right to edit or remove content deemed offensive.


Speak Your Mind