The city of Independence is going to have to arrive at some clarity about industrial development.
For years, the city’s great hope for growth has been in the Little Blue Valley. Roads are built. Some homes are going up.
But the kinds of jobs the city needs to raise incomes and improve the community’s standard of living are not in retailing, where the city has invested a generation of effort in its southeast corner. Those jobs are in office work, health care and industry.
Independence has tried to jump start industrial growth. An industrial park near Lake City was announced to some fanfare several years ago, but it’s gone nowhere. It’s too far from I-70 for developers’ tastes, and it’s their money.
The R.D. Mize Road/Jackson Drive/Little Blue Parkway area has gotten attention more recently. A developer has stepped in, and the City Council last summer abated taxes and approved bonds – backed by the developer – for a project with a trucking company. The catch is it was contingent on rezoning, and that blew up this week at the Planning Commission when neighbors complained about noise, traffic and other concerns. The commission said no. The City Council officially has the final say, though the public upset on this one is pretty clear.
This city needs economic growth. That means new and better jobs. Industrial development has always been part of the vision for the valley. This has been clear for decades. Waiting for only the perfect project – no pollution, no traffic, no noise, no lights at night – is fruitless.
The community needs a realistic conversation about what tradeoffs are reasonable and where the community should put its efforts and its limited resources.