Archive for Wednesday, July 9, 2003

A lesson is hidden in zoning skirmish

July 9, 2003

Greg Ward's decision last week to pull his request for multifamily zoning on a five-acre tract in Tonganoxie was the neighborly thing to do.

Ward had planned to build owner-occupied townhomes on the farmland that sits on the west side of Smiley Road, north of Hatchell Road.

Property owners in the vicinity banded together to protest the rezoning. They said multifamily zoning was out of character for the area, which is dotted with homes sitting on large lots. They said they feared their property values would plummet with each townhouse that was built. And they told planning commissioners and city council members that a multifamily development would adversely affect flooding problems that already exist.

Those same residents said they would welcome a single-family development.

And apparently developer Ward heard them.

While Ward decided on a new option, he was within his rights as a property owner to seek the rezoning on the land. And this chapter in Tonganoxie's book of land development should catch the attention of anyone who lives near a large, vacant tract of land.

As former Mayor John Franiuk said, "I hate to see the farm ground go, but anybody who wants farm ground got off the bus too soon. They must now go up to Jefferson County."

And anyone who lives near a large tract of vacant land must be prepared to see that land developed. Residential development is marching north, east and south of Tonganoxie. And it's marching at a pretty good clip.

It's important to be aware that no vacant ground -- unless it's in the floodplain or unless it's controlled by someone not interested in developing it -- will remain vacant forever.

So while the Ward rezoning request turned out happily for nearby residents, other residents of other areas of Southern Leavenworth County should take note. It's imperative that residents not take for granted that land in this part of the county will retain its rural flavor.

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