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The city officials of Eudora need to wake up. I have spent countless meetings listening to officials from various branches of our city government including the City Council, the Planning Commission and conversations with city officials about the codes in Eudora.

The one thing I hear about from many people in this town, particularly business owners, is that the codes in Eudora are so restrictive that businesses don’t want to locate here or in a few cases want to stay here.  This has been echoed in the comment section of this website on many of the stories.  City officials need to realize that, because of the code restrictions currently in place and more getting placed seemingly at every month, it is turning businesses away. While these idea behind these codes are to make the town “look pretty” (read that Johnson County-ish or Lawrence-ian), it hinders economic development.

This was pointed out very plainly at the Planning Commission meeting held this past Wednesday night. Java to Go, one of the newer businesses in town opened up on a temporary permit because of the sign moratorium that was in place earlier this year. With that moratorium in place, the building, because of its design, could not have opened without a temporary permit. Now that the moratorium has been lifted, the building can obtain what is called a Use Permitted Upon Review (UPUR) permit. Without a long explanation of the permit, this is basically what any new business needs to open their doors.

Java to Go, located in the C & S Market parking lot is owned by Erica Spurling, Spurling and her husband appeared before the Planning Commission to obtain this permit. This was a rather interesting situation since Spurling is herself a newly seated Planning Commission member.  She recused herself from the Commission during this discussion due to the conflict of interest and joined her husband to support the application.   Several Planning Commissioners balked at multiple issues about the current property including the fact the power of the 8 x 8 building is above ground, not below ground, lack of enough directional signage for cars using the drive up window and the setback from the street. The Commission did vote 4-1 to allow the UPUR so Spurling could continue to operate the business, but, for a time, the permit was in doubt. Had the permit not been allowed, the business likely would have shut down or be moved.  This is only one example.

Kaw Valley Bank is planning on building an ATM near the corner of 14th & Church Street.  This will be a drive through location containing only the ATM.  There will be no other banking facilities here at least in the short term. To get the permit to build the ATM at this location, Jim Hoover, owner of Kaw Valley Bank, had to jump through several hoops to satisfy the Planning Commission with such things as enough shrubs, posts and curbing so that people wouldn’t drive through the grass instead of using the concrete pavement that will be placed to get to the ATM.  The requirement of sidewalks was also discussed as possibly necessary to obtain the permit, but that eventually was not required.  (It’s a drive up facility only.  Why do you need to worry about sidewalks for something that is going to be redesigned and likely rebuilt in a couple of years when the bank does hopefully expand?)  Again, the permit passed, but it was rather questionable as to if it would be approved.

The types of code issues are not isolated to the Planning Commission.  You can refer to our story of last week about the City Council not allowing Jay Wilson to keep his quail and what hoops and, ultimately, losses he has experienced to try to keep his birds. These are all very recent examples, and are only a few examples, of codes and code issues that come up routinely. They have come up routinely for several years now.

The City recently hired Collin Bielser in the newly created position Economic Development Director. They also have a very qualified individual in Susie Pryor leading the charge as head of the Chamber of Commerce. How can these two do their jobs effectively if businesses are put off by going through largely unnecessary, costly and bothersome mountains of regulations?

In response to some of my questions in the past about codes and their restrictiveness, the following statement has been made to me by city officials, “Well, you have to have regulations otherwise you’ll have complete chaos.” I agree 100% with that statement. You don’t want someone throwing up a glorified cardboard box on the street downtown and calling it a building and opening a business in it. You do not want some shoddily built strip mall every two blocks, nor an inflatable ape in front of every store. At that same time, saying that you can’t have this sign because it hangs six inches to far over the sidewalk or your building has to be in an less preferred location “because that’s the rules, that’s the plan we put together” is detrimental to business that want to locate in Eudora.

In defense of the City Council and Planning Commission, the permits were issued for the establishments shown here as examples. We also understand that a possible ordinance change about allowing birds is going to be discussed at the next City Council meeting. These groups are not just denying everything requested or applied for. With that said, giving business and citizens the feeling they need a lawyer and/or jump through so many hoops and spend more money than originally planned to get a permit issued or ordinance varied, turns people off to wanting to conduct business or even live here.

Businesses are the lifeblood of this town and a major source of the tax base.  We need some type of larger company to invest in our community and employ our citizens if you expect people to live here. Without businesses, large and small, the residents of Eudora will end up paying such a huge amount in property taxes, they cannot afford to live in the city anymore.

The bodies that govern our city need to realize this is not Overland Park, Lawrence or Lenexa. We are a small town and not a suburb. You need to think about the businesses that are trying to earn a meager income and, believe it or not, help our community grow.

John Schulz

Managing Editor

www.eudorareporter.com

The opinions expressed in this editorial are solely those of the editor. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or advertisers of eudorareporter.com

 

 

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17 Responses to Editorial: Codes

  • Editor,

    You might want to read the meeting minutes from both planning commission meetings you mentioned, the ATM request passed 5-0 without pedestrian access as this was a temporary site. I did not attend the last meeting you referenced but as you indicated, it passed 4-1.

    Perhaps you need to wake up before writing your editorial.

    Johnny Stewart

  • I agree. Changes need to be made. Things like this have been going on for years. I experienced the same type of silly restrictions in the late 70’s. Restrictions are needed. Simple not complicated.

  • It is these all the restrictions that keep businesses from wanting to come to Eudora. How can this city and community grow? Sounds to me like the city council and the planning commission do not want growth, sounds like they are power hungry control freaks. John makes a valid point, why is Eudora trying to become like Johnson county or Lawrence?

  • Hey Johnny , if you would take time to read word for word, youl see that John did say what you are saying he left out. He did say that in the end they were ok, but people have to jump through lots of hoops to get to that point.
    A city does need a plan and ways to keep things on a scale that works, but the plan in place in Eudora now , is so messed up and so restrictive that, I as a business owner now, would not even think about opening another business in Eudora and have put a buy offer in on land in another town and plan to put on 3 new employees after the move.
    I for one do not play politcal games as needs to be done in Eudora. The rules should be in black and white and fair to all, but in Eudora, they are gray and so restrictive that most look elsewhere and bypass Eudora totaly.
    Another issue is the School District controling taxation levels. When the older bonds were about to come off, the district fought to get new schools that were not needed and so way out of line with population and need, it set Eudora back 18 years in taxation theft.
    We now have a multi million dollar West Elementry building sitting empty but still using A/C Elect Heat and upkeep to the tune of tens of thousands $$$ a year. Very wise management skills being shown on that one.
    When people are paying out $2,000.00 a year real/estate taxes in Eudora USA (on a 100K home) for a school district that is scoring an F on leadership, one tends to get a bit pissed off. The last 15 years of our school board has pretty much destroyed any hope of Eudora becoming a good city to live in and open a business.
    I think the city council should look into an idea to limit school district spending to allow the city to set a mill rate to fix Eudora`s systems that suck, like the electrical grid , streets and water system. Lets face it, county roads are nicer than our streets and a battery pack is better than what we have here.
    Let the smacking begin !!!!

  • John, I agree with you! It seems like our town is so anti-business and there are many who want it to stay exactly the way it was years ago. Here’s the deal, though, if we don’t court and obtain new businesses, our taxes will continue to rise. So many of our rules and regulations are modeled on Lawrence and Johnson County and I think it’s fine to let Eudora be a little unique in some areas. At any rate, make our codes and regulations easier for the average citizen to understand. We should be jumping through hoops to get new businesses to locate here and give all the help we can to our existing businesses. Main Street already has too many empty buildings….make it easier and more profitable to come here and enjoy our little corner of Kansas hospitality!

  • Thanks for the article John. I agree totally, the City really needs to look at what they are doing to the businesses. I am a new business owner, and know the City wants to appear to be offering, but when it comes right down to it, they are looking to only their own gains. Such as the new business or expansion of business grants for downtown, it all sounded good and was a great opportunity, until you actually applied for it and then realized that they would only approve the use of the funds towards basically the “appearance” of downtown, the buildings, not the actual business. Many business owners don’t own the buildings but rent them and the majority of the ones that do own the buildings don’t need money to improve the appearance of them. The City should be helping businesses with getting people in their door, getting people to know that they are there – both inside and outside of our community. Bring people to Eudora, but instead they are not at all helping with advertising or promotion of businesses. This is put on the business owners which is a very expensive costs that new businesses MUST have. I think if you took a poll, you would be surprised to know how many people, even just Eudora residents, who do not know there is now an antique & collectible store downtown, that DC Customs now sells guns or that Penny Annies will be opening soon in downtown. If the City wants businesses to come in and to stay, they need to change some of their rules and restrictions, and actually help the small businesses, who are just trying to make enough to pay the bills each month, otherwise in a year, they’ll end up with the buildings empty again. And with businesses going out, who would want to try to open something else? I wouldn’t.

  • The planning commission is the least of this community’s worries when it comes to retail surviving here. The biggest problem is the lack of support existing businesses get from the community. As long as everyone will jump in their car and drive 15 minutes to save a nickel, the business community of Eudora will not grow.

  • If Eudora wants businesses, they need to have a traffic flow that supports good business practices. Stop signs everywhere dont make customers want to come and shop. Along with slow speed limits. Also in the eyes of new or potential businesses, all they see is a dying town. I mean, just look at 10th and MAin. This freakin town tears down perfectly good buildings. Eudora doesnt exactly look “green” to out of towners.

  • Kim is right about the city not spending anything to help a business thrive and bring in tax revenue.
    Every other city in Kansas has an advertising plan for raidio or TV to promote businesses in the downtown sector of the city.
    I know many people felt that Cheryl Beaty (last city admin) did nothing for this city, but they couldnt be any farther from the truth. That gal promoted every business all over the place , fought for every single business and spent her off time helping businesses with ideas and promotions.
    She was a great person for Eudora and got railroaded out of town. I think our new city admin is a great guy, but he is taking Eudora down that (lets be lawrence or Lenexa road) and that will destroy Eudora`s business structure .
    Back to an issue at hand.
    Get the damn school district under control and get taxes down for the people who live here and most of all THE BUSINESSES.
    Rent for space in Eudora is going up and up and up , while other towns rent is going down.
    Two businesses will be leaving downtown this fall because their GREDY landlords have bumped rent up $100.00 a month to offset nothing. Just greed. The rent is already high due to the taxation, but you toss in the greed on top of that and it pushes businesses out.
    When does the school district plan on selling off all the wasted space they own and spend millions to upkeep and heat , cool and so on ?
    When will the city see that building a new cop shop and fire station downtown will be a HUGE waste of money ?
    Why not take over one of the wasted school spaces like West Elementry or the school districts Admin building ? Those are not using downtown space and are turn key buildings ready to move into.
    Let the slapping begin !!!!!!

  • Thanks to John for an informative editorial. I think he is rght on the mark.
    Someone mentioned the new cop shop and fire station. Is that something that will voted on before being built? I assume the city hasn’t saved money to pay for such an expenditure, so they will be hitting us up for new taxes.

  • This really has nothing to do with this article but it does has to do with Eudora new codes. We were driving in Johnson County through the upper class Woodland Sub divison and actually believe it or not seen cars at a couple of houses parked in the grass in the front yard. Good thing they don’t live in Eudora isn’t it.

  • Good job John
    Having only lived in Eudora for the last 7 years, I’ve kept my foreign ideas to myself. Now I need to say that I don’t think the people who run this city have any idea what the residents want or need. I live in a part of town with neither curbs, sidewalks or gutters. I don’t need or want those things, but you can bet I pay for the maintanince of all those things. I have no kids in the schools, but want kids to get a good education. So big taxes are required, or are they. If the football field had been vandalized 2 years ago, we would have watered and mowed it till it was all better. Nottingham is centrally located and would make a fine city hall with much needed parking. More room with better access for Fire dept and with alot of work, room for police. Last Saturday, driving by the rec center at 12:55 on a very hot day, the darn pool isn’t open, why? Kid’s are not in school, my guess is lots of parents would love for their kids to be swiming on a hot weekend day before 1:00P.M. The rec dept is not being used in an efficent manor. The business’s on Main st. struggle and no one seems to be looking for a way to help. Now, with the no u turn signs, the block with almost all of the downtown business is less easily accessed by locals. These are little things, but speak to the fact that the city officials seem to be driving around with the widows up and the radio blasting and not getting any input from the people carrying the load. I like this little town. I like seeing kids rideing their bikes around. Maybe, soon they will be able to ride to Penny Annies to buy candy, but they better not get on the sidewalk or they might get a ticket.

  • My question is besides the Historical Society at Nottingham what else will be housed in this bldg? I agree with Sandra I dont think we should build anymore “new” bldgs. when we have perfectly good ones now we can utilize. Why not ask the citizens of the community what they need? Anyone ever think of asking them for their opinion? We are all tighting our belts and having to live on budgets (most of us anyway), I think the city should be a good role model and do the same! I wish we had somewhere the teens could hang out at. Of course I have been wishing this for 19 years, and also somewhere senior citizens could get together and not be so isolated. I also wish we had a mulitpurpose center to help our townspeople who need a little extra help. I would love to see this town flourish, especially Main St. I see bldgs that have been for rent for well over a year so know this might be close to impossible? I think the owners should invest in the community and fix the bldgs so it will attract new business to our township. Just my opinion.

  • Christine and Sandra, I actually agree with both of your statements! Just look how WASTEFULL Eudora is. Tearing down a pefectly good building at 10th and main.It could have been modified to be used as a fire station, a city hall, or anything really. But no, our stupid school board says “tear it down” That is the problem with Eudora today. All the school board and the city coucil think is “newer is better”! Eudora is NOT Lawrence or Overland Park. So why is the coucil trying to run it like those cities? If it was, we would have 100% better streets to drive on. Eudora has actually went down hill in the last 10-15 years. Its alittle to late to turn it around now. I hate to say!

  • This city has fallen into dispare in the last 2 years and its not the hard economic times doing it.
    We have a council and city leaders that have NO CLUE what is going on or how to fix it. It basicly does no good to go to council meetings because they are going to do what they see is fit and public input is heard but taken with a grain of salt.
    I know i have been many times and i see the faces when people speak and the end result is mute for the public.
    The old school at 10th and main does need to come down and that should be sold as commercial business property. Any house from 10th and main to 6th and main should be turned into commercial retail sales and the city is letting people add on to homes instead.
    Nottingham should come down NOW and the land sold as commercial retail sales ONLY.
    The ball field at Church and K10 should be sold for commercial use and a field can be put in elsewhere.
    The ballfield at 14th and Church should also be sold as retail sales property to get a good business in there.
    A private financed ball complex could be built in a location that does not use up PRIME retail space.
    This city is basackwards on everything they do.
    Come on city leaders put some effort into getting businesses in Eudora and cut out the crap of building another Johnson County, do you have a clue ? Where is your thought for Eudoras future ?

  • We also have a school district with no clue. Right along with the coucil. Or maybe they are working together. They are both wasetfull. Why should all these good buildings be torn down? Re-purpose them. The “old” is now the “new” People want to slow time down. Not keep going ahead so darn fast. Retro is the in thing now.

  • Conversley, I wish the codes would have been more restrictive when the decision was made to allow Eudora’s version of Starbucks to be placed in the C&S parking lot. A shed with windows. What an embarassment for this town and a shocker that it is closing down as it didn’t turn out to be viable employment for the owner.