Special to The Gardner News
On July 6, 2017, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners’ (BOCC) voted to approve a development application for Lineage Logistics LLC to build a 411,000 square foot cold storage facility at New Century.
On Nov. 1, Lineage Logistics announced that they would no longer pursue the development.
The company statement said “…unforeseen changes to our customers supply chain and logistics needs have, for now, prompted us to withdraw our plans.”
A group of neighboring property owners had objected to the development, citing numerous concerns, including safety concerns, property devaluation and the process of approval.
The group claims the BOCC was not responsive to hearing their concerns.
Later the group filed a lawsuit against the BOCC – Jensen, et al. v BOCC of Johnson County, Kansas Case No. 17 CV 04410.
The group began an ongoing campaign to inform the public of their concerns. They distributed thousands of yard signs, held their own weekly public meetings, put up a website and individuals appeared at many BOCC, Gardner and Olathe city council meetings in August, September and October to voice their concerns.
KC metro news media picked up on the story, and it was featured on several TV and KC Star news stories.
Public support grew substantially, and a number of local and state elected officials issued statements of support for the group’s concerns.
Then in November, Lineage announced they would not pursue the project.
Despite the withdrawal of the construction plans, the lawsuit against the BOCC has not been dropped.
According to Mike Jensen, leader of the group suing the BOCC, settlement terms being presented to the county include the BOCC agreeing to revoke their previous vote that approved the project, agreeing to observe county PEC3 Zoning regulations, and agreeing to not make disparaging remarks about the plaintiffs after the settlement.
“We’re asking them to obey their own PEC codes – why would they not agree to obey their own laws? They make everybody else do it,” said Jensen.
The statement from Lineage Logistics says they have withdrawn plans to build “for now,” and the group took note of that.
Constance L. Shidler, attorney representing the group, says that unless the BOCC reverses their vote, Lineage or someone else could still build there when public attention has lessened.
“The footprint for that building is still going to be there. The permission to build that building will still be there, so unless the Board of County Commissioners act, the way is clear for someone else to build the same building that Lineage would build,” said Shidler.
Shidler says if the judge finds that legal procedure was not followed, the court itself could revoke the decision or remand it back to the BOCC for reconsideration.
The group believes that the public was not properly informed and involved in the process. The county says that proper procedure of public notice was followed throughout the entire process.
“There’s something terribly wrong with our system – because there were over 300 landowners and people who live in Johnson County that were very interested in what was going on out there but just had no idea,” says Shidler.
The next court date in the suit against the BOCC, which will be the third, is Dec.7 at 1:30 p.m. in Olathe.
On Nov. 16, the group, now known as Concerned Citizens For Responsible Government, met and decided they would continue as a watchdog type group in Johnson County beyond the resolution of this specific case. They elected officers at that meeting and decided to file as a 501 (c) (4) organization.
Developer withdraws construction plans; lawsuit against BOCC continues