Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2001

Zoning hindering growth

Economic, business development restricted

November 29, 2001

Houses are springing up around Eudora and new downtown businesses have opened in the last several months. But seeing a core business like a hardware store leave town with nothing to replace it is a concern for some.

Since the city doesn't have someone solely in charge of economic development, that leaves the job up to others in the community.

Eudora Chamber of Commerce President Keith Turnbaugh said the chamber had reached a stalemate.

"Where we're at right now, it doesn't matter what Ior anyone else does," Turnbaugh said.

The lack of space zoned for commercial development is keeping out businesses who have expressed interest in opening in Eudora, like Ace Hardware, he said.

"I don't want to become a Kansas City," Turnbaugh said, "but having services in Eudora like a hardware store and a dry cleaner would improve the town. Furthermore, additional industry would offset the burden of taxes now placed on residential developments."

Because zoning is the main setback, Turnbaugh said, that puts a lot of responsibility with the city council to make such planning decisions.

"You look at Gardner and Edgerton and there are more M-Pact type business parks and there's a lot of small industries," Turnbaugh said.

In the Gardner and Edgerton areas, however, the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Group takes charge of those tasks. President Donna Newkirk said the development

group takes charge of drawing job-creating industry and businesses to the area, leaving area chambers of commerce to draw in retail.

"This is kind of the bottom rung of the ladder," Newkirk said. "That's what creates rooftops being built. Industry is the base of your commerce."

The development group is a not-for-profit business that gets membership and funding from both Gardner and Edgerton and is governed by a board of people who have a vested interest in the area's growth, Newkirk said. The development group is self-determining in terms of its business plans although it relies on community feedback and input to determine what the area needs.

"That's the value of the board because theyhelp provide that feedback as to what they feel is a good fit for the community," Newkirk said.

The proximity of rail lines, Interstate 35 and the NewCentury Air Center, with which the development group works closely, mean Newkirk can offer new businesses and industry rail, auto and air transportation at their door.

Getting retail to the area hasn't been a problem for Gardner or Edgerton either.

"We're in a great location for growth as it continues to move from the metro area out," Newkirk said. "We're in a great spot for that type of thing."

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