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For the first time in several years, an overflow crowd attended the Eudora City Council meeting on Monday evening.  The majority were in attendance to oppose a text amendment that would allow for non residential buildings in residential areas to be used for business purposes other than retail-commercial or industrial.

The issue came about when Readiness Rounds, a hospital software company that has been based in Eudora for several years, went looking for a place to expand their offices. Readiness Rounds is currently located at 10th & Locust Streets.  The only building in Eudora that Readiness Rounds has identified as large enough to fit their needs for the coming years and is suitable for those needs is the Old Baptist Church at 11th and Main Streets.  The church is surrounded by single family residences.  Readiness Rounds currently has approximately 15 employees in Eudora with another eight working in sales nationally and internationally.  The current expectations of Readiness Rounds are to add another 30 staff members with 20 of those located in the Eudora office over the next five years.

Neighbors in the area of 11th and Main have been out in force to oppose this measure. The Planning Commission has had this amendment presented to them twice in the last two months and both times, they have recommended that the City Council reject the amendment. At the City Council meeting on Monday, several residents spoke to the Council as to why they did not want to see this amendment approved.

“I think this adaptive reuse will open some doors we won’t be able to close,” nearby resident Adam Lecuyer said. “I don’t want to see a hodgepodge of commercial and residential go together.”

Eudora resident Ward Johnston came out to support the nearby church residents.

“I’d like to see those buildings used for what they are intended for,” Johnston said, referring to the church.  “We have buildings downtown that are vacant and have been vacant for a long time. Allowing other buildings to be used for businesses is not going to help them be filled downtown.”

Attorney Adra Burks spoke on behalf of former resident and current land owner Arthur Neis about how traffic and a large number of employees could impact the streets and infrastructure by having a business in a residential neighborhood.

Councilman Kenny Massey disagreed with Burks. Massey stated how he lived at the corner of 11th and Main for nearly five years and the traffic from the office building would never equal what occurred with the Church.

“We routinely had people parked in our yard, up to the point that the grass was dead three feet in and I guarantee you that property will not incur that type of traffic if this business moves in,” Massey said.

While the audience was predominantly filled with those opposed to the amendment, there were some supporters.  Pam Staab was one who spoke in favor of allowing reuse of buildings in residential areas.

“I own a couple of properties downtown and one of those properties has been vacant for years; what’s going to happen if the church doesn’t sell, Staab questioned.  “The longer that it sits vacant, the more repairs it’s going to need.  It’s very difficult to do those repairs when you are not getting any benefit from the property.”  Staab also mentioned that once buildings are sitting vacant for a long period of time, it’s harder to sell them because new owners cannot afford to make the necessary repairs.

After an hour of public comments on the issue, the City Council weighed in with their thoughts on the issue.

“We’ve talked about this (amendment) because of the economic benefit,” Councilman John Fiore said. “We’ve got an ambitious parks and rec plan and an ambitious trails plan and that takes money.  This is a good business and good neighbor in town and it’s going to bring good jobs that will help buy the houses that are for sale which will help property values all across town and that helps everybody.”

Councilwoman Ruth Hughs echoed Fiore’s comments.

“We citizens of Eudora are taxed and taxed some more. I don’t know about you but I need some tax relief,” Hughs stated.  “How will we ever be able to afford that (referring to future city enhancements), if we cannot attract businesses here to help carry the burden? I can’t be burdened too much further.”

Following the discussion, the City Council voted 3 – 1 to approve the measure. Councilman Bill Whitten was alone in his dissent of the amendment stating that he wanted to follow the recommendation of the Planning Commission. Councilman Tim Reazin was not present at the meeting.

With the passage of the amendment, this is only the beginning of this story.  The next step will be up to Readiness Rounds.  If Readiness Rounds decides to proceed forward with pursuing the option of moving into the Baptist Church, besides completing a purchase of the building, they will have to have site plans drawn up and file an application for a Use Permitted upon Review (UPUR).  Both the site plans and the UPUR begin with the Planning Commission.

Readiness Rounds owner Don Death, who was also present at the Council meeting, said that they will have to evaluate if they wish to proceed forward with the idea.

“The question is: Do you want to go in a place where people don’t want you,” Death said. “I don’t know if the answer is yes or no.”

Death stated that he is cognizant of the resident’s reservations with the use of the building and if his company chooses to proceed forward, he will study the situation carefully and try to work towards a solution.

“I think the residents have some valid concerns,” Death said. “I would too if I lived in that area.”

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11 Responses to City Council weighs in on zoning amendment

  • let me get this straight.
    The city wants this business to go into this residential area to bring in tax revenue it looks like.
    Do they not know that an online business does NOT collect sales tax in Kansas ?
    I would say now for the people who live around this church need to file a civil action case NOW against the city before it goes and further.
    This is a can of worms that will set Eudora up to be in the same boat Lawrence Kansas was in back in the 70s and cost buzzillions to fix.

    • Ed. Note: One problem with any news story that a professional ever writes is the need for more space. We cannot write a transcribed conversation of every sentence of the entire meeting.

      While I am not going to answer for the City Council nor any member of it, I believe Ms. Hughs was referring more to property taxes the building would bring in as opposed to what a church brings in. Ms. Hughs did make reference to the the amount of money that the property currently generates and having a business in that location would bring in significantly more. That quote did not make the story (similar to the 100 other comments made by citizens and Council members.)

      If we gave a wrong impression by using just a few quotes from the evening, we apologize.

  • Even in the case of the taxation of the building , your only talking about up to $4,000.00 a year or so in which Eudora gets about 30% of.
    Not hardly worth dropping 20 homes property values 30% or more and bringing in the trash, noise and maybe crime that comes with a business that is open every day VS a church open 2 days a week.
    John , this city council and leadership we have now is NOT looking out for the people, they have an agenda to put their names in history and this city is going down the pooper fast.
    Ask yourself this Can i afford another $150.00 a year on my ral estate tax payment ? Can i afford my home values to drop another 35% like they have thus far ? Can i keep my car up with all the bad streets in this city that rattle it to the point parts are falling off ?
    Can i afford my meds as an older Eudorian who lives on $600.00 a month and has NO more to give and spend ?

    This city leadership doesnt give a shi# about anyone in Eudora John !!!!!!

  • Re: Businessman
    Trash, noise and crime from a software company ???
    I know that area well .. walk my dog by there everyday. If they make wise use of their parking area, between that and on-street parking – 30 or so employees should not be that intrusive. It won’t be anywhere near the amount of cars a church service would bring.
    Also, most everyone who lives near there will most likely be at their own jobs during the time the cars would be there, so I don’t know what the big deal is.

  • We are neighbors of the old church building. An empty building helps no one. I don’t care if a new business lowers our taxes by $5.00, we’ll take it. Seniors on a fixed income know how to get by. This is a local business and I’m pretty sure it isn’t out to ruin our neighborhood. We need to keep involved in local decision making so we DO get good neighbors. Without new revenue sources we will always be lacking in city services. I have been to the city with some concernes and found them responsive and helpful. If other local folks would take a breath, it might be easier to see that elected officials are trying to do for the whole city not just for us over here in what I think is, “the pretty part” of town. I will be very unhappy when the school district sells the Nottingham property and the entrance to Eudora is turned into “23 St East”, ugh. I think that will happen someday, but I’ll be there to make sure the city hears my 2 cents worth. Maybe I will make a difference, maybe not, but I will have tried.

  • thebcman & Sandra
    Ask yourself this question.
    What do i do when the software company grows to 100 people or when they go belly up and they have another business take over that does something you dont like ? You can`t bitch about it , you were for it.
    Also you think that a software company will not make trash ? Will not make noise ? Will not have people like salesman selling them crap driving in and out all day , not just Weds and Sunday`s ? You think no methhead will break into the building and try to take stuff to sell to get another hit ? You think that the city won`t do this to another address among homes after this deal happens ?
    The residential district is just that for a reason is it not ?
    Yes this city needs money, but the leaders can do other things like offer a tax break for 2 years or free water for a year and get them to build in a business park area, not operate in a residential area.
    What is happening is pure BS and the city leaders do not give a crap about whats left after they are gone and out of office.
    Use your brain and think before you do something so big and out of the box !!!!!

  • Exactly what noise do you expect a software business to make? Also, I’m pretty sure they make receptacles now that can actually hold trash. Most likely, this business will even pay to have this trash taken away!

    I can understand concerns nearby homeowners may have about it, but quit acting as though a strip club is being opened up there, Businessman. People break into churches too.

    Don Death strikes me as a guy who is trying to do what is best for his business AND Eudora. I think the guy deserves the benefit of the doubt that he cares about this town as much as everyone else.

  • I”m hoping for the business growing to 100 employees, needing a bigger place. Building a new place in the industrial area, and ALL those people buying the houses that are for sale in Eudora. Then, they will need a church to go to.

  • Amen Sandra! It just dawned on me who businessman is…. As we, or should I say quite a few have been trying to figure this out. I did. I will keep a secret though!

  • I know who businessman is and didn’t know there was someone on here that was more opinionated than me, but I guess there is now….haha….As far as an empty building bringing new jobs to this little burg, I am all for it. This business should be no problem for this neighborhood. And just how will a quiet, viable business with no obtrusive signage or large truck traffic harm property values? What about all the home businesses in this town? Should we make them have a license to operate? Have proper zoning to operate? Some might not think they are running businesses but even an e-bay store needs delivery trucks in and out of a neighborhood, and you know they are always as quiet as they can be……

  • All businesses are required to have a license to operate in Eudora & Kansas, home or retail district located.
    If everyone would go back and read my post`s youl see i am very pro business, just not pro putting a large (the largest )business in Eudora in a residential area.
    This lame city needs to get off thier butts and design a business park for new business to move into , so when and if the times get good again, we have a place for them, not next to homes.
    Not only would a business park be good for construction jobs , but get some employers to hire some of the people of Eudora !!!!!!
    Hoover tried to get something going out east of town, but guess what, not water, no gas , no sewers , no cable , no nothing to work with to get a business motivated to move in.
    Get a business park plan , get the land and get it going to be able to play ball when the businesses come looking to play in Eudora !!!!!
    Desoto has one , Tongi has two of them . Baldwin has one . Lawrence has many. Lecompton has one .
    Come on Eudora Leaders, get a grip….