Despite pushback, Edgerton council approves rezoning for new warehouse development

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EDGERTON, Kan. — New development will soon be underway in southern Johnson County.

Thursday, the Edgerton City Council approved the rezoning of more than 500 acres of land on multiple lots along Gardner Road from 119th to 207th Street. The property was rezoned from rural residential to logistic to make way for future warehouse development.  

“Some of these funds go to schools. Some of it goes to multiple different jurisdictions throughout Johnson County, which is important to us. A little town like ours doesn’t get a million opportunities to increase our tax base by millions at a shot,” Councilmember Josh Lewis said.

Despite pushback from residents in the annexed portion of the City of Edgerton and in unincorporated Johnson County, the council approved six of seven requests to rezone the recently annexed portion of the city with councilmembers Ron Conus and Joshua Beem opposed.

“I voted for rezoning in our last meeting of properties directly south of Kubota. I think that does make the best use of that land. Once you get further east of there I think it becomes less and less appropriate,” Conus said. 

The final request to rezone the seventh lot of land in the cluster will be tabled for 90 days at the request of the developer.

“A denial of this doesn’t stop what people would consider negative, which is truck traffic and everything else associated with the project,” Mayor Donald Roberts said. “It would actually move the truck traffic further and probably be more damaging in the long-run. We wouldn’t have control of particular roads and we definitely wouldn’t have the economic benefits to pay for them.”

Timeline of rezone approval 

December 2020: Property owners within the notification area receive a letter notifying them of a public hearing for the rezone request in the annexed portion of the City of Edgerton. 

January 12, 2021: A public hearing was held by the City of Edgerton Planning Commission for proposed rezoning requests for an annexed portion of the city. 

February 9, 2021: Edgerton city staff present an economic impact analysis memo to the Planning Commission. The commission votes to 4-0 to deny the request to rezone.

March 11, 2021: The request to rezone is presented to the Edgerton City Council and a public hearing is held. The council votes to send the request back to the Planning Commission for further review. 

April 13, 2021: The Planning Commission approves the request to rezone the properties 4-0, with the contingency to work with neighboring municipalities to address truck traffic. 

April 22, 2021: The Edgerton City Council approves the rezone requests for six of the seven proposed properties. The request to rezone of the seventh lot is tabled for 90 days at the request of the developer.

Dennis Koch  lives near the rezoned development site in an unincorporated portion of Johnson County.

“They (developers) bought it as rural agriculture property. With that purchase, they got the rights as anybody who would purchase rural agriculture property. The city council enabled them to get additional rights that we don’t think they should have got,” Koch said.

Prior to the vote the unincorporated land was purchased by LLC’s affiliated with NorthPoint Development and later annexed by Edgerton. 

Matt Combs lives in the unincorporated portion of Johnson County near the annexed property slated for warehouse development. He is also a member of the grassroots organization Protect Rural JoCo.

Combs said while he is disappointed in the council’s decision, he is more concerned about what he feels is a lack of transparency from the city when it comes to the intentions of future development.

“I’m looking at the owners as I’m making the decision to buy my own home; Wellsville Cattle LLC, South JoCo Farms LLC, Hillsdale Cattle LLC. Those are just examples of companies that were owners of the land, only to learn they weren’t land or cattle companies at all,” Combs said.

“It was a disguise for NorthPoint. I don’t have a problem with personal enterprise growing, I understand that. What I personally have an issue [with] and I challenge, is the fact that everything I just mentioned was known by the City of Edgerton. None of the city officials updated the [master] plan. They did not communicate to the public.” 

Council Member Katee Smith said her decision came down to a property owners’ rights. She compared the rezoning and construction of warehouses to someone in a residential neighborhood being displeased with their neighbor building a barn in their own backyard.

“Every landowner has rights, but you don’t have a right to your neighbor’s property,” Smith said 

The council will review the request to rezone the remaining 106 acre lot owned by Wellsville Farm LLC at the regular council meeting on August 12. 

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