A screen shot from a Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation video shown at the Economic Development Advisory Committee meeting on April 23. The shot is from a drone positioned above 159th Street looking east to New Century Airfield. On the left side of the photo (north side of 159th)  is the Unilever facility and on the right (south side of 159th) is the DuPont facility.  Over 800 acres of property are becoming available for industrial development at New Century. Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz

Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner’s Economic Development Advisory Committee heard a presentation from Greg Martinette, president of Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation (SWJCEDC), which was followed by one discussion item on the agenda – language of a section on Home Occupations in the working version of the new Gardner Land Development Code.
Home Occupation Codes will establish rules and definitions relating to conducting business activity from residential homes.
The committee’s job is to review the proposed code, in this draft form, and submit their recommendations back to staff and city council.
Larry Powell, director of business and economic development, told the committee that the Gardner Land Development Code was in need of rewriting because it has not been updated since 2008.
“We’re going through a really major renovation, or rewrite, of our existing code.” Powell explained. “There’ll be so many changes in it, that it’s not really a rewrite as much as it’s a totally new code being brought to the forefront.”
Concerns with the Home Occupation Code as written were immediately voiced by multiple committee members. They were concerned with how the code would affect small, non-nuisance business activities, such as distributors of Mary Kay cosmetics and businesses that operate primarily over the internet.
Powell acknowledged that some were virtually undetectable but noted that other types of home based business could create problems in a residential neighborhood. Drawing the line that divides and defines the two is the task.
“How do you figure out what the balance is? Because you’ve got to balance it”, Powell said. “A residential neighborhood is not a business area. It’s purpose is for you to live in and enjoy as a residence.”
Several members stated that they had worked from home previously.
Randy Gregorcyk, committee member, suggested that members take time between now and the next meeting date to make notes on revisions, definitions, limitations and any other specific concerns or details. The committee agreed and plans to resume the topic again at the next meeting.
Martinette started the meeting with a 50 minute presentation. He stayed to the end of the meeting.
Martinette’s presentation appeared to be a similar but expanded and updated the version of a council presentation on March 7, describing benefits and services provided by his organization.
The presentation included a video showing a bird’s eye view drone shots of vacant land and occupied properties at New Century Airfield. This video was produced to be shown to businesses looking to locate there.
Martinette said that 800 to 900 acres of previously unavailable property on the north and east side of the airfield were opening up for industrial development.