A business park and additional business developments in Independence's Little Blue Valley have been long desired and discussed. But before it issues a large-scale rezoning, the City Council wants to see an actual development agreement ready to go.
A council majority voted Monday to postpone rezoning two large tracts of land on each side of Little Blue Parkway at R.D. Mize Road – more than 126 acres – to the business park designation.
The 92 acres east of Little Blue Parkway, which includes Horseshoe Lake that would be incorporated into layout, is zoned single-family residential, office-residential and neighborhood commercial. The 34 acres on the west side, site of the former airport strip, is zoned residential.
Mayor Eileen Weir said she’s reluctant to extend rezoning for the whole area without any idea what the Eastgate Business Park might consist of.
In the city’s development code, the business park designation allows for utilities and services, repair services, business and construction services, animal boarding and veterinary services, offices, retail sales, carwashes, employment agencies, limited manufacturing, warehousing, limited recycling services and crop agriculture.
“We've got to get this right,” Weir said. “I'm concerned about opening this up for such a wide range, without any sense of what development will do.”
“I think we're putting the cart before the horse,” she said, if the council approved.
Council Member Scott Roberson, the lone dissenting vote, said he wanted to avoid somebody swooping and developing as is. Someone putting up houses would have to go through the council for final approval, but for the current office-residential and neighborhood commercial spots would only need approval from city staff.
“I would rather rezone it and already have it designated,” he said.
“Well, no one's gone in so far,” Weir replied.
Council Member Tom Van Camp said he would rather developers come forward with a plan first and ask for rezoning.
City Manager Zach Walker said it isn't for lack of city effort or general interest from developers that no formal development agreement exists. There's been “a lot of nibbles,” he said, but nothing imminent.
“Interest is high,” Walker said. “It's matching the right vision with right opportunity and time.”
The council unanimously approved rezoning to allow a 6,000-square foot banquet/meeting hall facility at 17301 E. 32nd St. – just west of Missouri 291 and south of Frontage Road. It also approved rezoning for a new Dollar General at 909 and 911 S. Crysler Avenue – just north of South Avenue and near the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks.
Lastly, the council approved a preliminary development plan for Cargo Largo, which wants to build a new 463,000-square foot facility off Noland Road just north of the current facility on 35th Street. Cargo Largo wants to consolidate its operations in one building with the proposed $40.5 million project.
PIONEER SPRING CABIN: Council Member Karen DeLuccie clarified Monday that when fellow member Curt Dougherty recommended last week that city staff plan to restore at least a portion of the Pioneer Spring Cabin to incorporate it into the National Frontier Trails Museum, it was his recommendation and not the formal one of a council sub-committee.
That sub-committee, which consists of Dougherty, who first championed moving the cabin last summer; DeLuccie, who was unable to attend last week due to family emergency; and John Perkins, had not actually met, she said. DeLuccie noted that most citizens who attended the community forums last summer favored restoration to leaving that cabin at its current site near the Sermon Center at the corner of Noland and Truman roads. Dougherty was not at Monday's meeting.
Perkins said the group can schedule a formal discussion soon in order to make an official recommendation.