Planners reject concrete plant’s zoning request
The city planning commission voted unanimously last week to deny Meier Ready Mix's request for a zoning change at 628 Laming Road, acknowledging the importance of an "invisible line" between Tonganoxie's city limits and the surrounding countryside.
The plant owners had asked that zoning for the area, now I-2 for industrial use, be changed to I-3 for heavy industrial use.
The planners heard presentations from nine people in the audience of approximately 70, all of whom spoke against the Meier request. Gene Meier, president of the plant and one of its three owners, spoke in favor of the company proposal.
The primary opponent to the request, county resident Don Huebner, gave the planning commission copies of petitions containing 196 signatures against the plant. His property is directly across the road from the site.
Huebner said the plant would be built at the city's front door. Creation of an I-3 zone could invite construction of other uses found in I-3, he warned.
Other industries permitted in I-3 include auto salvage yards, animal rendering plants and hazardous waste storage facilities, Huebner said.
He said the land near his home was not the place for such industries.
"Are my objections to this personal? You bet they are," he said. "I do not support this near my home, and I would not support it near your homes."
Linda Zacher, city planner, presented a staff report favorable to the request, citing access to U.S. Highway 24-40, existing zoning and characteristics of the surrounding land as favorable to the proposed use.
Meier told the group his company had been considering Tonganoxie as a site for several years.
He said one of his plants at Ozawkie, 25 miles from Tonganoxie, uses a vacuum system to keep dust from spreading to other properties.
He said the company had been invited to come to Ozawkie and had never had a complaint from surrounding property owners or the city.
"You know, everybody's got a concrete basement," he said. "Nobody thinks those are noxious. If allowed to come here, we will be good neighbors."
Scott Beeler, a land use attorney with Lathrop and Gage law firm in Overland Park, called the concrete plant a "noxious use application by legal and planning definitions."
Beeler said he could find no areas zoned I-3, looking at the city's comprehensive planning map.
"There's no such zoning because that's not what the city wants to have," Beeler said.
He pointed to other businesses located near the proposed zoning, including the bank, the storage facility and the grocery store, would be considered industrial uses.
Beeler said he had traveled to several Meier plant locations, and had found as the plants' neighbors auto salvage yards, a rendering plant, and other industries "which common sense tells us are noxious, troublesome industries bearing bad names," Beeler said.
Others who voiced objections referred to visual, pulmonary and noise pollution, traffic hazards, damage to roads and the dangers of creating spot zoning within another zone.
Planners said, in denying the motion, that they would like to have a concrete plant, but not at that location.
Planner Chris Donnelly advised the commission to fulfill its responsibility to be a good corporate citizen but to find a good location for I-3 zoning needs.
"We need solutions. Instead of denying and objecting, we need to find locations," he said.
Planner Connie Putthoff told the audience that she had viewed a Meier plant, and was impressed.
"Homes are good, but they are really quite expensive," she said. "We need industry to help pay our tax load."
Meier could have been expected to bring an estimated $30,000 per year to the city, not counting spin-off benefits in additional employment and supplies, according to Tonganoxie City Administrator Chris Eppley.