Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Extra Long City Council Meeting Discusses Rezoning

With Mayor Marilyn Pearse again unable to attend because of health concerns, Council President Kathy Gerstner lead the first council meeting of February 2016. The council quickly approved the consent agenda and officially welcomed Glenn Rodden, as the new city administrator.
Council President Kathy Gerstner
Photographer Kevin Surbaugh
Hank Booth, Executive Director of the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce addressed the council highlighting a few of the chambers 2015 accomplishments.
  1. Started work on a new Economic Development Program to develop a business park in Baldwin City.
  2. Mentioning how great it would be to have land to help attract potential suitors.
  3. Developed a new website for the cities Chamber of Commerce, that is user friendly and that would allow their members the ability to market their businesses, While at the same time provide up to date information about Baldwin City.
  4. The Chamber is now working with the Network Kansas E-Community program to bring Baldwin City more resources to help members succeed and grow their businesses.
  5. Sponsored the inaugural Baldwin City Car Show and Beer Fest with over 300 vintage cars on display for hundreds of visitors to enjoy.
  6. Initiated work on a project to encourage retirees to take a look at Baldwin City as a great place to live.
Booth also said, that would like to see a potential incubator space to attract start-up businesses.
Councilman Tony Brown, commended Mr. Booth on the work and efforts the chamber has done. While Councilwoman Christi Darnell asked how we are encouraging businesses to grow. He (Booth) referenced back to the Network Kansas E-Community program.
The big issue of the evening was the second reading of the rezoning of a triangular shaped parcel on Ridge Lane. The issue, known as ordinance 1338, attracted seven neighbors from the Fire Tree neighborhood. All of which had the impression the rezoning was for multi-family. Council President Kathy Gerstner tried to clarify that the planning commission only recommended rezoning from R-1 to R-2, and not Multi-Family. Multi-family would be three families or more under the same roof. This zoning would only allow two (at most) under the same roof. In other words duplexes. However, the speakers continued to be opposed, each of them saying that when they moved in, they had been told the neighborhood would only be single family homes. Many of the same speakers said that they only learned of the rezoning only an hour or two before the meeting. All of the neighbors that spoke were concerned about low income families diminishing their property values. Andrew Danner of North Star Housing said that affordable housing does not mean low income.
After approving the rezoning on the first reading, during the last council meeting, the measure failed on a 3 to 2 vote. Those voting against rezoning at this time were Steve Bauer, Christi Darnell and Kathy Gerstner. The council then voted 3 to 2 to send it back to the planning commission saying the duplex development as being out of character with and detrimental to the neighborhood.

 In other business:

  • The council voted 4-1 on resolution 2016-03 to support North Star Housing tax credit application. Despite the fact the rezoning issue had been sent back to the planning commission previously.
  • Brad Smith went over the 2015 operations.
  • adjourned at 9:37 p.m.
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