Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
The City of Gardner held two public hearings and passed two new ordinances for the construction of a new Freddy’s restaurant during the June 7 council meeting.
The amendments for the ordinances will add area to the Main Street Market Place Community Improvement District and the Redevelopment District.
Tyler Ellsworth, bond counsel, said Freddy’s proposed development currently sits in two districts. The Community Improvement District ordinance amendment would add the southwest portion of the property with the entire property to be included in the district.
Council approved a resolution to announce the public hearing for the amended redevelopment project plan to be held July 19 at city hall..
Randy Gregorcyk, council member, said he had concerns about traffic on the right hand side of Quick Trip next to the Freddy’s development site.
“There is no stop sign, and now we are adding more traffic to a small area,” he said.
David Knopick, community development director, said everyone involved with the traffic study had shared the same concerns.
Steve Shute, mayor, said there was also concern about cars using the Price Chopper area to cut through and bypass certain streets creating more traffic issues.
Jim Pruetting, city administrator, said they were evaluating the traffic concerns going forward.
Mark Baldwin, council member, said he wanted to know if the traffic flow in the opposite direction had been evaluated.
Knopick said staff had concerns and Freddy’s developers were also still looking at the traffic flow issues.
“There may be some final tweaks to the development plan,” he said.
Council members passed a resolution to research the city codes and statutes for building billboards along Interstate 35 and initiate the process of modifying the land development code for fixed signage.
Fred Wingert, Wingert Billboard company owner, said during public comments that he had received requests from business owners about revising billboard statutes.
Wingert said from South of 151st street to Wellsville I-35 had limited billboards.
“I receive regular requests from Gardner businesses,” he said. “I’m receiving more requests now that we are coming out of the pandemic.”
Wingert said tens of thousands of people drive I-35 a week.
“I’m not asking for a proliferation of billboards,” he said.
Knopick, said there needed to be more discussion, and there were a number of routes the city could go.
He said if the city initiated moving the discussion forward, staff can research and look at ordinances to evaluate the proposal.
Shute said he wanted to know if ordinances differientated between rotating billboards and electronic signs.
Knopick said they would address both because of certain KDOT rules.
Denk said the city code and state statute don’t define the required action the city needs to take.
“KDOT won’t look into it until the city has zoning in place first,” he said.
Knopick said the city can be more restrictive than KDOT with property zones for commercial or industrial.
Shute said speaking for himself he thought the billboards would be beneficial for people in the community.
Knopick said the city wouldn’t be able to regulate the content messaging of the billboards.
Mark Baldwin, council member, said he wanted to know if they could restrict which businesses bought billboards.
Knopick said through the code they could not restrict the businesses.
Baldwin said it would then be open for the free market.
Gregorcyk, council member, said he wanted to know the sign road setback distance requirements.
Wingert said the spacing back from the intersection has to be at least 500 ft. He also said their company doesn’t advertise distasteful content as part of their covenant.
Gregorcyk said he wanted to know what the recommended distance between signs was.
Wingert said electronic sign recommendations are 1,000 to 1,200 feet and 600 to 900 feet for rotating billboards.
Knopick said the key was for the staff to have direction and parameters to set the tone.
Gregorcyk said he supported allowing billboards on I-35 in Gardner as long as there wasn’t a proliferation of them and they were mindful of the outcome.
Shute said he wanted to know the cost benefit analysis to the city.
“There is a lot of opportunity for new businesses to advertise,” he said.
Gregorcyk said it was a way for the city to earn sales tax revenue from visitors.
Baldwin said he wanted to know the long term effects and consequences for the future 25 years from now.
Gregorcyk said he wanted to know if locations of the signs could change hands in the future.
Council passed several other development and housekeeping items:

-A Utilities Department committee’s recommendation for the purchase of a Quick Valve Startup Kit and Sleeves equipment from Olathe Winwater for $49,925.
-Industrial Revenue Bonds for $37,900,000 to be issued for financing a portion of the Tallgrass Apartments multi family apartment complex.
Matt Wolff, finance director, said it provides the developer a sales tax exemption on constitution materials and the city is not responsible for the bonds.
-An ordinance adjusting special assessments on certain pieces of land within the Plaza South Special Benefit District. The new adjustment is $930,000 which is less than the original $1,300,000 assessment approved October 22, 2019.
-An ordinance adjusting special assessments on certain pieces of land within the Waverly Plaza Special Benefit District. The new adjustment final costs were for $1,677,720. The original assessment of $1,953,000 was approved November 18, 2019.