Eudora Planning Commission

Planning Commission

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

Story by Susan Roberts, special to eudorareporter.com

At next month’s Eudora Planning Commission meeting, the public will have a chance to weigh in on a proposed zoning text amendment that  would simplify and clarify the process for site plan submissions.

Scott Michie, a planning consultant for the city, reviewed highlights of the proposal for the Planning Commission at Wednesday’s meeting. The plan has been in the works for several months, and the commission voted unanimously to advance it to a public hearing at the Oct. 2 meeting. Commissioner Glenn Bartlett was absent.

According to a memorandum prepared by Michie, key provisions of the proposal would eliminate preliminary site plans in favor of a single site plan review process; would make edits and additions of site plan submission requirements, including more detailed analysis of stormwater management needs and solutions; and allow city staff to review and approve minor site plans for non-residential projects.

Applicants would meet with city staff when submitting a project. Staff will review the projects for compliance before presenting them to the planning commission.

Planning Commission Chairman Kurt von Achen noted that in the past, Eudora didn’t have the staff to review projects as it does now, and said he favored the new division of labor. Unlike many area cities that leave site plan work entirely to staff, however, von Achen said he was not ready to relinquish the commission’s role in approving plans.

“Now we have staff and can rely on them, but we still get to check and see that the staff did the job,” von Achen said.

Notice of the public hearing will be published in mid-September, and the site plan document will be made available for public review at that time. Copies of the plan will be available in Codes Administrator Curt Baumann’s office at City Hall, 4 E. Seventh St.

Also at the Oct. 2 meeting, a public hearing will be held for the annual review of the city’s comprehensive plan. There have been no major revisions or proposals this year, so the annual review, required by state law, was characterized as more of a perfunctory update.

In other business Wednesday:

• The commission unanimously approved a plat change for property owned by Danny Shockley and located between 15th and 16th streets and Maple and Elm streets. The property was split into two lots and needed planning commission approval because the lot had been split once before and required a replat to be divided again. Shockley said he had no plans at this time to develop the property.

• Baumann presented a report on building activity in the city for the month of August, showing that 17 permits worth more than $378,000 were issued. The majority of projects were remodeling or addition projects on single-family residences.

• No new nameplates will be needed following election of officers: von Achen retains his position as chairman and Richard Campbell was approved to continue as vice-chairman.

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Jason Hoover has been appointed to the Eudora Planning Commission.  Hoover replaces Erica Ganson on Commission.

Ganson resigned from the planning Commission earlier this month.  She had no comment as to the reason for her resignation.  Ganson operated Java to Go in the C &S Market parking lot until closing the business a couple of weeks ago.  At that time, Ganson stated that an employment opportunity cam about that gave her more stability and a better income.

Hoover, a life-long resident of Eudora and son of former Mayor Jim Hoover, is Executive Vice President and Director of Kaw Valley State Bank.  Hoover has been employed by the bank since 1990.

Jason Hoover has also served in the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals for the last 18 months. Hoover will be sworn in at the Next Planning Commission meeting in June.

Replacing Hoover on the BZA, will be Charlie Watts, a former administrator in the Eudora Public School System and longtime builder and landowner in town.

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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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Erica Spurling was appointed to the Eudora Planning Commission by a unanimous vote of  the City Council on Monday evening. Spurling’s appointment comes at the recommendation of Mayor Scott Hopson.

Spurling was born and raised in Lawrence and moved to Eudora approximately three years ago.

“I’m excited to be a part of the planning commission and I’m looking forward to being able to help out,” Spurling said.

Spurling replaces Rose House who’s appointment was not renewed by the Mayor.

“I felt it was time for some new blood on the commission,” Hopson said. “With the appointment of Grant Martin and Johnny Stewart in the past months, and now Erica, we will have a fresh perspective on the commission.”

House, in a statement to eudorareporter.com, simply said that she appreciates her time with the commission and wishes the rest of the members well in the future.

“I’ve received many well wishes form the current commission members and I was very honored to serve with them,” House said.

Spurling will be sworn in at the next Commission meeting on July 6 at City Hall.

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by Nick Becker, sophomore at Eudora High School

In a ceremony on April 26, Ronald McDonald House representative Alan Lubert received pop tabs collected by Eudora High School students throughout the school year. EHS participated in a campaign called “Making a Difference One Pop Tab at a Time.” The idea is to simply remove a tab from any aluminum can and give to the charity. The students set posters up, put tubes around the school, and even created a Facebook group. By doing so, the school raised approximately 120,000 tabs.

The Ronald McDonald House Foundation shelters families while children are hospitalized. Since most of the families do not live close to the hospital, caring for children can be difficult. The House allows them to stay near to check in with the children. Many families stay from six to eight months. There are two Ronald McDonald Houses in Kansas City, and they are among the busiest in the United States. The Ronald McDonald House Kansas City opened their doors for the first time in 1981. The first house was too crowded for all of the incoming families, so in 2006 a completely new Ronald McDonald House was built with 41 rooms. Today, there is once again a waiting list. Every night 10 to 12 families enter the house.

Tabs may be dropped off at the house or a representative can pick them up. Tabs are sold to the Wabash Iron & Metal Company. Tabs are worth more than cans because they are pure aluminum and can be melted down and reused.

In addition to tabs, the Ronald McDonald House now accepts keys.  Lock mechanisms are also accepted since they may also be of use for their brass.

The house collected $25,000 in tabs last year alone, and since brass is worth three times as much as aluminum, one ton of keys will make $5000 for the organization.  On the first day the organization accepted brass, a total of 600 pounds was collected.

Volunteer work is also welcome and needed because the Ronald McDonald House raises 90% of funding on their own. Some volunteers may actually get to cook so the families can have a hot meal whenever they need to go home. A volunteer shift runs from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M.

For more information on how you can help the Ronald McDonald House Charities or to find out how you can volunteer, visit the organization on facebook.com/RMHCKC, call (816) 421-1753 x118, or contact Alan Lubert at alubert@rmhckc.org.

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