A zoning change request will be sent back to the Gardner Planning Commission for reconsideration.
Planning commissioners recommended the city council deny a request to rezone 2.67 acres at 30000 W. 191st Street from C-2, or commercial, to M-2, or light industrial. Against the advice of city staff, a unanimous planning commission agreed to reject the rezoning proposal.
A unanimous council on Aug. 17 sent the rezoning back to the planning commission for reconsideration.
Treck, LLC, requested the rezoning in order to build a freight terminal between Marvin Tow Service and Sprayer Specialties. Representatives from Treck, LLC, did not address planning commissioners on July 29, however attorneys for two properties nearby told the commission they opposed the freight terminal project.
Nicholas Porto is an attorney for Martin Vail, who owns and operates a towing service on neighboring property. Porto told the commission on July 29 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.”
Gardner city code does not define “shipping containers,” but it does define “cargo containers,” and requires that cargo containers be stored on at least 20 acres.
Jeff Shinkle, an architect representing Treck, LLC, addressed the council on Monday night. He told council that opposition to the freight terminal project attempted to redefine what a freight terminal is. The terminal would house shipping containers on truck chassis perhaps overnight, but not much longer. The project would include a 2,000-square-foot building surrounded by a fence and landscaping. Trucks would be dispatched to the intermodal to pick up or drop-off loads from the freight terminal, Shinkle said.
“If you want to define this as a cargo shipping business, that’s a completely different business than a freight terminal,” he told council members.
Porto said he was bewildered by Shinkle’s presentation to the council.
“It’s bewildering how I got up in front of the planning commission and the applicant sat there silent not denying anything I said back then,” Porto told the council.
Porto said Treck, LLC, is one of the biggest cargo transporters in the Kansas City Metro, and a truck terminal would be used for the storing and movement of shipping containers.
“The reason they’re coming here is because they’re going to transport cargo,” Porto said. “…A shipping container is a cargo container. How can anyone with a straight face sit here tonight and say a cargo container and a shipping container are not the exact same thing? I’m telling you, I am flabbergasted that this works.”
Porto called the definition debate a “smoke screen.”
“Two years ago, I was here with Marvin Vail,” Porto said. “I asked this exact same question: Can we store cargo containers at this lot? And the answer was no, because it was not 20 acres. Two years later, it’s being entertained.”
Council member Lee Moore said the argument over whether it’s a cargo container or a shipping container is an emotional one.
“It’s deliberately emotional. That’s why I dismiss it altogether,” Moore said. “I want to look at it logically.”
Mark Hanna also opposed the rezoning for a freight terminal. Hanna is an attorney who represents the Anne Radke Trust, which owns 65 acres nearby. The trust includes the property on 191st Street where KC Pumpkin Patch was once located.
He said it’s important for council to have vision.
“Do you want Northpoint to build more warehouses on this 65 acres my client owns?” Hanna asked. “I think you’d prefer a Hampton Inn or a retailer. If you grant this spot zoning, you’re setting the pattern for more warehouses and industrial uses.”
Northpoint is the developer for Logistics Park-Kansas City.
Council members suggested and staff agreed that the planning commission did not provide ample reasons for recommending a denial of the rezoning. Hanna disagreed.
“There’s even been a suggestion that your appointed planning commissioners didn’t do their job,” Hanna said. “I would respectfully suggest just the opposite happened.”
At the July 29 meeting, planning commissioners called the rezoning request spot zoning. The 2.67 acres is surrounded by commercial and agricultural zoned properties.
A majority of council members appeared inclined to support the rezoning, but the council would need to approve the request with a two-thirds majority to overcome a planning commission recommendation.
City attorney Ryan Denk suggested that the council send the rezoning request to planning commission so the city has clear, documented reasons for denial.
“Allow (the commission) to articulate and make specific findings,” Denk told the council. “If they rendered a recommendation for denial, they really should do that with sufficient findings. That way you’d have a specific written record. You would know exactly what the basis for their denial would be.”
Council sends rezoning request to commission for reconsideration