I want to respond to the letter from John Seeley (“This isn’t the right plan for jobs in Independence,” The Examiner, Nov. 16) regarding the plans for the development of a business park near Little Blue Parkway and R.D. Mize Road.
It is healthy to discuss all aspects of a project of this magnitude and the long-term effects on the community, but it must be done using factual information and not hearsay, rumors and misinformation. Mr. Seeley’s letter misstated several key points of the Van Trust project, and I wanted to give your readers a factual representation of what is being proposed.
Mr. Seeley referenced a TIF (tax increment financing) being used for the project, and that is absolutely false. An incentive was approved, but the mechanism for the incentive is a Chapter 100 bond, which allows for tax abatement on the project. This incentive was approved unanimously by the incentive review committee which included many of the taxing districts impacted such as the Independence School District and Mid-Continent Public Library (The Examiner, July 24). It was also approved unanimously by the Independence City Council on Aug. 5. The site does have some challenges with flood plain that without the incentives would make it impossible for development to occur. The Chapter 100 Bond also has zero risk to the city as they aren’t a bond being backed by the city.
There is also a notion that the buildings being developed for this project are for the primary purpose of warehouse distribution facilities. As noted in the city of Independence unified development ordinance, there is a limitation of 60% of the floor plan being used for warehousing. Quite frankly, the size of these buildings and their configurations don’t match up with what is required by companies looking for warehouse distribution centers, but they do match up with the Little Blue Valley Development Plan, which indicated that 2 million square feet of industrial could be supported in the area.
The Independence Council for Economic Development has identified the need for light industrial space for manufacturing, and our project history shows that a majority of the companies looking for space fall into this category. This project was submitted as a “planned unit development” which gives further controls over design standards and quality. Comparing this to buildings along Front Street is like comparing apples to oranges.
With the exception of a handful of residents near the proposed site, the community has clearly stated that the creation of quality jobs is a priority. The comprehensive plan approved last year identified this area as business park as the highest and best use with no opposition at that time to this type of use. The project is well thought out and will only be the starting point to help launch other development in the valley so that it can meet the full potential envisioned in the parkway master plan.
All growth has its growing pains, but we must get past the fear, uncertainty and doubt that is being created by those who oppose it. The greater good of the entire community is what is at stake.