Morgan stepping down from planning board after future applicant is appointed to post
John Morgan has seen many projects and developments come to fruition in Tonganoxie.
From the Tonganoxie Business Park and the city’s parks and trails system to County Road 1 and the U.S. Highway 24-40 corridor study, he’s been involved in some capacity in the early stages.
Morgan has served on the Tonganoxie Planning Commission for 14 years, so he’s read and heard his share of documentation and proposals for various projects in Tonganoxie.
But Morgan soon will be stepping down.
He will remain on the commission until his replacement is selected.
“Honestly, it’s something I’ve been kicking around for a few years,” Morgan explained Friday. “But we had a lot of turnover, as far as the planning commission and some of the plans … having that history, I didn’t want it to get lost and folks be starting over from scratch.”
While looking back at his time on the planning commission, Morgan reminisced about the many folks he worked with during that time, including three administrative leaders with the city: former City Administrator Mike Yanez, former City Administrator/City Manager Nathan McCommon and current City Manager George Brajkovic.
Current Tonganoxie USD 464 school board President Jim Bothwell was on the planning commission in the mid 2000s when he encouraged Morgan to apply to the planning and zoning board.
“I worked with him a few years on it and really enjoyed taking part in the planning of the future of city,” Morgan said. “It’s been a long time.”
Morgan has now been in Tonganoxie for two decades and has seen many changes during that time.
“We moved to town in 2000 and Tonganoxie was 2,800 and it’s right around 6,000,” Morgan said, referring to the city’s population jump. “You knew it was coming with Tonganoxie’s location, being so close to Kansas City and Lawrence, Topeka, Leavenworth, Johnson County. It’s just kind of in the middle of everything.”
Morgan actually lives just outside the city limits and currently holds one of the county-resident positions with the planning commission. A stipulation for his seat is that the commission member reside no more than 3 miles away from the city, so his successor also must satisfy that criteria.
Terms also are about to expire for city representatives Zach Stoltenberg and Jennifer McCutchen.
Other commission members are Crystal Henson, John Kirk, Patti Bitler and Monica Gee. Their terms expire in 2022. Gee is the other county representative and also is vice chair.
Stoltenberg, McCutchen applied to retain their seats, while city resident Sherri Rebarchek also applied. Stoltenberg is commission secretary.
Morgan praised the current commission, noting that the board members provide a good range of expertise.
He also talked about the planning commission’s role.
“When you think about it, I would say there are misconceptions that planning and zoning kind of determines what’s going to be built in Tonganoxie,” he said.
He reflected more on the role of a planning commission member, in his mind.
“People, for the most part, want to be heard and if they have concerns, you want to give them the opportunity to share those concerns and make sure they know those concern are heard and being valued,” he said. “They may not like the answer in the end, but at least they’re being given there opportunity to voice their opinion.”
The deadline for applications for all three seats was Aug. 17, but there were no applications submitted for Morgan’s seat before the deadline. The City Council, at the Aug. 17 regular meeting, agreed to extend the deadline to next Wednesday, Sept. 2, as another opportunity for residents eligible for Morgan’s seat to apply.
The next step will be interviews or a review of applications at the Sept. 3 planning commission meeting.
It’s possible from there that a recommendation for all there appointments would be sent to the mayor and council to consider at the Sept. 8 council meeting.
Until a new commission member is appointed to his seat, Morgan will stay on the planning and zoning board.
John works as a staff operations manager for the senior vice president of marketing at T-Mobile and his wife, Kris, works in customer service for askart.com, an art website.
The Tonganoxie couple has three children: Calvin, who is starting his sophomore year at Emporia State University, Emma, a soon-to-be senior at Tonganoxie High School and Corinne, a soon-to-be sophomore at THS.
John was born in Council Grove and then moved to Washington state before a short stay in Nebraska before his family moved to Emporia when he was 13. He graduated from Emporia High School in 1991 and then headed on to Emporia State University.
John opened a bar in Emporia, signing the paperwork for the bar and proposing to Kris the same day. The plan was to run the bar for five years before selling it.
But he got married in 1999 and Calvin was born in 2000.
“The last thing I was going to do was raise my kid in a bar and come home smelling of stale beer and cigarettes,” John said.
He got out of the bar business shortly before Calvin was born in 2000. The family moved to Tonganoxie in 2001 and has been here ever since.