Danedri Thompson
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Planning commissioners will recommend that city council members approve a preliminary and final plat and the rezoning more than six acres on the south side of Gardner to make way for an Orcheln Farm and Home store.
The store will be located on 19 acres on the northwest corner of 188th St. and S. Gardner Road.
“Orscheln is a midwestern retailer with over 150 locations throughout the midwest. It specializes in livestock feed, automotive, toys, housewares, home and garden supplies,” Lance Johnson, a contract purchaser for Oscheln, told members of the planning commission during an April 28 meeting.
“They are excited with the opportunity to invest in Gardner.  We’ve been working on this for two years. They’re excited and want to be here,” Johnson said.
Though he did not say when the store would open, the store officials did ask that the plans be fast tracked, meaning preliminary and final development plans approved at the same time.
In other business, the commission:
• forwarded a recommendation to the council to deny rezoning and a 30-year conditional use permit to allow for oil extraction wells on approximately 156 acres located on the northeast corner of W. 167th St. and Waverly Road.
Michele Lineninger, city planner, told commissioners that the rezoning request was not consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan. The plan suggests that the property is in an area that would be primed for commercial development in the near future.
“It can be difficult and unsafe to develop residential uses around existing or plugged wells,” she told commissioners. Staff recommended that the rezoning and conditional use permit be denied.
Keith Brock represented Thomas Oil Wells, the property owner, in front of the commission.
“What’s important in this application, is who the applicant is,” Brock said. “This is not an investor who is coming in to make money from the outside.”
Thomas Oil Wells is a division of Thomas Enterprises, owned by Joel Thomas, a Gardner Edgerton High School graduate.
Ultimately, Brock said the owners would like to develop the property for commercial use, but produce oil on it until market conditions support commercial development there.
“Both parties want that property developed in residential or commercial,” Brock told commissioners.
However, if the permit and rezoning are denied, he told commissioners they would be depriving landowners of the value of $7.5 million to $15 million of recoverable oil.
“If gas can not be brought to the surface and taken, it’s unusable,” he said.