Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner Planning Commission met on Sept. 26 to consider the site plan for a new Scooter’s Coffee drive through and site plan for expansion of an existing church. The commission also considered initiating staff research into review and reassessment of city code pertaining to sign codes.

Scooter’s Coffee
The commission considered the site plan and request for administrative adjustments for a new Scooter’s Coffee drive through kiosk in the location where the vacated Waffle House is now.
Michelle Kriks, planner, presented the staff review and recommendation.
The lot is part of the Gardner Truck Plaza plat and is currently owned by Waffle House Corporation. They are currently under contract to sell the property to an investment group, MB-CFC Gardner, LLC, which is planning to lease the property to Scooter’s Coffee.
An example of the adjustments requested (exception to code) is code that requires a storefront to be 50 to 80 percent windows – “transparency,” so the public can see the public area inside.
This building is only 466 square feet, and that would make it almost all windows and interfere with the intended operation.
It is intended as drive a through only, and there is no interior customer area.
Due to the small size of this building and drive through only operation, staff agreed these standards were not practical in this case and recommended approval.
A representative for the new business was present and available for questions.
Tim Brady, commission member, said he thought there would be walk up traffic from the hotel and other surrounding areas and asked if they anticipated that.
The representative said that while they wouldn’t turn walk up customers away but they expect very few and didn’t get much at other locations, even ones that do have a walk in order counter.
“Any concern about pedestrians though?” asked Brady.
The representative replied, “That’s why we don’t have sliding windows or walk up windows, because we do take that into consideration, making sure all the pedestrians and our customers are safe.”
Heath Freeman, commission member, made a motion to approve, seconded by Tory Roberts, commission member, and approved by vote with none opposed.

Church Expansion
Several members of Reaching Out for Souls Ministry at 143 S. Sycamore Street were present to hear the commission consider their request for approval of a site plan and request for administrative adjustments for the expansion of the existing church facility at 143 S. Sycamore.
The area is zoned R-5 residential. The existing structure was built in 1957 and used as a single family home until 2004, when it became a church facility.
The plan includes combining two lots into one to accommodate expansion of the building, increasing the paved parking area and additional sidewalk access to the ADA compliant ramp on the west side of the building.
Commission voted all in favor to approve – with the conditions that plat be filed and recorded with the county, and that the new shrubs shall be a minimum of 18 inches.

Sign Code Changes?
The commission considered staff request to initiate research and review of Gardner Land Development Code pertaining to building design and performance standards for industrial buildings and wall signs in residential districts.
The action commission would take at this meeting (Sept. 26) is not a promise to adopt a code amendment, but simply direction to staff to begin research and review of the current code and return with a summary and recommendation at a future commission meeting.
The impetus that put this item on the agenda was the ‘Royals sign’ controversy that erupted earlier in the year, when a citizen received a cease and desist letter from the city notifying him that the homemade Royals sign on the side of his deck was in violation of city code and needed to come down. The homeowners protested.
The story became a hot topic on social media and got picked up by some Kansas City metro media outlets.
A television news station had a camera at the city council meeting on Aug. 7 to shoot the homeowners telling their story to council and asking them to find a way to let them keep their sign.
The council voted (on Aug. 7) to pause enforcement on the cease and desist letter and sent direction to the Planning Commission to review the sign codes and recommend if change is needed.
At this meeting (Sept. 26), the Planning Commission voted all in favor to initiate staff research and review of the topic.