DE SOTO, Kan. — Plans for two major developments in western De Soto have been put on pause.
On Thursday, the De Soto City Council voted to postpone its decision to create a new tax district on 6,000 acres on the former Sunflower Ammunition Plant property.
The council also postponed the vote to rezone roughly 370 acres of land at 103rd Street and Edgerton Road.
“Just yesterday we learned the legal description submitted for the annexation of the Sunflower property, unbeknownst to the applicant for the annexation or to the city, included around 130 acres of land that was titled to the Johnson County Parks District,” Mayor Rick Walker said.
To remedy the situation, the De Soto City Council will host a special meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m. to consider a new annexation ordinance.
Walker said although the rezone request and the request to create a new tax district are separate proposals, the council could not consider either proposal until the annexation ordinance was amended because the properties were annexed under the same ordinance.
The final vote to rezone the property at 103rd Street and Edgerton Road and the continuation of the public hearing on creating a new tax district on the ammunition plant property will be moved to Thursday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m.
During a public hearing to establish a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district on the former ammunition plant, residents voiced concerns about property taxes and public transparency.
Rosemary Male said she feels taxpayers shouldn’t be financially responsible for cleaning up the former ammunition plant.
“When you go back to the 2004-2005 agreement that the county had with Sunflower Development Group, they were supposed to get that land really cheap because they were going to pay for all the clean up costs, not come after public money. If they couldn’t pay for it, it was supposed to go back to the Army,” Male said.
Dave Bennett said he felt the community wasn’t well informed about the development plans for the former ammunition property.
“Something this big is going to change our community so much, I would have thought it would have been well, well advertised and I don’t believe it has been,” Bennett said.
Johnson County Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara also spoke at the meeting Thursday evening.
“This is a huge project. What we were promised in the beginning was this was going to be a city and park concept. This was going to be residential and that this was going to have high tech industry. Now we are looking at big, huge warehouse projects, which will increase truck traffic on K-10,” O’Hara said.
O’Hara said she felt area residents need more information on the scope of the project and how it would affect their taxes.
“This has been a long, long process and for the community really not to know about it is problematic,” O’Hara said.
Prior to the meeting, FOX4 reached out to Johnson County Commissioner Shirley Allenbrand, who represents the De Soto area. Allenbrand declined to comment on the proposed rezone or the potential creation of a TIF district at the former ammunition plant.
During a public comment period, many residents said they were unaware of the proposed project and missed the opportunity to speak during the De Soto Planning Commission meetings.
State Senator Beverly Gossage told the council she was also unaware of the project and requested a copy of the information that was sent out to the public
Christopher Connell spoke to the council virtually, citing concerns over a lack of signage notifying the public about the potential rezone.
Craig Connell said he would like the city to deny the rezoning request and de-annex the site back to county property.
“If de-annexing this property is not in the city’s best interest then at least keep it zoned rural. Then in conjunction with the chamber’s economic development group, work out a deal between Flint Development and Sunflower Redevelopment to create an industrial park in the northeast corner of the recently annexed 6,000 acres of Sunflower Ammunition Plant site,” Connell said.
The De Soto City Council will review and vote on the rezone request and request to create a new tax district at the next regular council meeting on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m.