Danedri Thompson
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Against the advice of city staff, planning commissioners unanimously agreed that council should reject a proposal to rezone 2.67 acres at 30000 W. 191st Street to allow for a truck freight terminal. Staff recommended approval of the project, but commissioners balked at rezoning the property from commercial to light industrial, expressing concerns that a truck freight terminal would mean cargo container storage at the site.
Nicholas Porto is an attorney for Martin Vail, who owns and operates a towing service on neighboring property. Porto told the commission that Vail also owns a cargo container storage business in Olathe.
“The reason he is located outside of Olathe is that two years ago, we spoke with city staff about a request to operate his cargo business out of Gardner,” Porto said. “Vail was told that because his property was not 20 acres, he would never be able to operate his cargo hold in Gardner.”
City codes requires that cargo container facilities must be on lots of 20 acres or larger.
“As you can see from the application,” Porto said. “The change of zoning request is to build a freight and rail storage. That sounds a heck of a lot like cargo container. A shipping and a cargo container are the exact same thing. I’m bewildered why there has been no discussion about the fact that this is actually a cargo container facility.”
Chad Bahr, city planner, said cargo containers would be more of a minor or accessory use and not the primary purpose for the property.
“Our understand is if containers would be present, the majority would be semi-trailers as you would see going up and down the highway,” Bahr said.
The rezoning would allow trucks to come in and out of the facility and some could potentially be there overnight.
”Just from what we’ve heard today, to me, it sounds fairly clear that the secondary business in this place is going to be the storage of containers,” commissioner Heath Freeman said.
An attorney for another neighboring property, Mark Hanna, also voiced concerns about the rezoning. Hanna said putting a truck freight terminal may limit other development in that area in the future.
“If a Hampton Inn or a Holiday Inn were interested in building on a neighboring property, is that what they would want to see?” Hanna said. “I would suggest absolutely not. I would argue that this substantially harms the nearby property values.”
However, he said if the city wants to have more warehouses, then commissioners should go ahead and recommend approval of the rezoning.
“But if you have a vision and are willing to look down the road, this is a huge gateway to Gardner,” Hanna told commissioners.
He called the rezoning spot zoning.
“I think I am inclined to agree with the speakers that this is spot zoning,” commissioner Sheri Barber said. “I’m familiar with what a freight terminal is and 2.67 acres isn’t going to cut it. We have turned this down before, and it was less invasive that this is actually.”
Commissioners unanimously agreed to recommend that the council deny the proposal.