DE SOTO, Kan. — Property owners in De Soto are speaking out against a proposal that could bring new warehouses to the western portion of the city. 

In November, the De Soto City Council approved the annexation of roughly 370 acres of land near Edgerton Road and 103rd Street. The annexation also included 6,000 acres of land within the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant north of 127th Street.

On Thursday, the council will vote on rezoning the 370 acres from rural (RUR) to light industrial (M-1), despite the De Soto Planning Commission voting 4-3 to deny the rezoning request last month.

If approved, the land is slated for roughly 3.5 million square feet of industrial development.

Map outlining rezone request by Flint Development

Rosemary Male lives near the proposed project. Over the last few weeks Male said she collected signatures from more than a dozen landowners representing roughly 260 acres of property surrounding the proposed site.

Male said she’s also concerned about the proposed tax incentives that may follow if the rezoning request is approved. 

“It’s terrible, because for the 371 acres, they are doing an 85% kick-back and a 10-year abatement with industrial revenue bonds. They are doing it because there is no infrastructure there,” Male said.

“This property is not ready to be developed. There’s no sewers. The streets got to be redone. The water has to be improved. They have to come through and do all this with their money and then we are going to end up paying the fee. They are going to start these benefit districts, which are not going to help any of us. The city is not doing what’s right for the residents in the area.”

On Dec. 2, the city council voted 3-1 to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Flint Development for the property at Edgerton Road and 103rd Street. The MOU outlines the city’s intent to incentivize development on the property through a 10-year, 85% tax abatement.

The De Soto City Council will review and vote on a final development agreement prior to issuing any tax incentives. 

On Thursday, the council will also host a public hearing to review a separate proposal to create a new tax district on roughly 6,000 acres of land within the former Sunflower Ammunition Plant.

Concept plan for development on former Sunflower Ammunition Plant.

Male said she doesn’t feel the remediation of the former ammunition plant should be financed by local taxpayers, but should instead be paid for by the developer or the Army.  

“In 2005 when Sunflower Development LLC made the agreement with the county, Sunflower Development got that land so cheap that they were supposed to do all [the] remediation themselves,” Male said.

“Now the city is coming back and the developer is asking for a TIF district, and 80% of that they are trying to make the public pay for the cleanup, which is wrong. If the developer didn’t do their cleanup, it was supposed to go back to the Army. I don’t understand why they are trying to come after the public and our tax dollars to pay for cleanup of Sunflower when it’s their responsibility, not the publics.”

The city council will host a public hearing to review both requests during the next regular council meeting on Thursday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m.