Zoning request not an issue
BY DALE HOGG
Despite a crowd showing up at the Great Bend City Council meeting Monday night for a public hearing on the matter, requests for zoning change request and a special use permit filed by Concrete Services were dropped by the company.
In a letter delivered to council members just prior to the start of the meeting, Concrete Services President Roy Westoff notified the officials that the items were withdrawn. “Concrete Services hopes that it can come to a working arrangement with the neighbors and then reapply for the above mentioned requests,” the letter said.
The matter became an issue when residents in the area near the company’s lots at 1701 and 1721 Second Street submitted petitions to block the changes. They cited clouds of blowing dust and a concrete catchment pit. There was also a class-action lawsuit filed the residents against Concrete Services.
The application for the rezoning was recommended to the council by the Great Bend Planning Commission. Concrete Services wanted the properties changed from C2 (commercial) to LMCS (light manufacturing/service commercial) and the special use permit. This would have allowed the company to operate a Redi-Mix facility at the site with a pit designed to catch cement run-off from trucks being rinsed.
Under the permit, Concrete Services would have taken steps to lessen the dust problem, such as planting vegetation, paving the parking area and install irrigation.
Since public petitions were filed, state statute requires the measure be passed by three-quarters vote of the council. That means seven of the nine members have to approve it.
Council member Dale Westoff would have likely stepped aside since his company is at the heart of the matter. New council member Marty Keenan is the local attorney working with the residents and referred them to a lawyer in Wichita, so he would have likely stepped aside as well.
Passage was unlikely.
The City of Great Bend’s arrangement with the owners of the Highland Hotel to manage the city-owned convention center will remain in place, at least through the end of September, the City Council decided Monday night.
The decision came after much discussion and a report from City Administrator Howard Partington on an April 5 meeting he and City Attorney Bob Suelter had with Highland general managers Girish Amin and Ishwar Patel. Since there have been management and staff changes at the facility and the city’s proposed improvements to the center are yet to be started, Partington suggested the partnership remain intact through the end of the year.
Under this arrangement, the Highland would continue to book conventions and provide the staff needed to service them. The city isn’t getting much income from these conventions, but Partington said the city isn’t having to pay for personnel either.
However, several council members expressed concern.
“The city needs to run this itself or not at all,” council member Randy Myers said. He felt the city should take over management of the center sooner rather than later.
“There needs to be a plan,” council member Allene Owen said. But, she agreed, this will take time.
“This needs to support itself,” council member Dana Dawson said.
There was a fear that perceived instability might scare convention planners away. But, the council was assured that the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau has been working with hotel management to secure meetings.
There are improvements in the works, but Partington said these are taking longer than anticipated. Among these are new petitions for the center interior, new heating and air conditioning, ceiling improvements, new carpeting and a new outdoor sign.
Partington hopes to have details from the architect working on the project by sometime in May.
The September time frame was a compromise to allow time to set up a some sort of brainstorming session and at least get the city through budget planning this summer, but not keep the status quo in place until December. Long-term Highland management of the center is one option open to the city.
“This is a huge cooperative effort,” Mayor Mike Allison said. It involves the city,the GBCVB and other parties.
In other business, the council:
• Reorganized and the oath of office was administered by City Clerk Wayne Henneke to new council members Nels Lindberg and Marty Keenan, and returning members Ken Roberts and Randy Myers. Mitch Haney was named council president. Official depositories (which include all the banks in Great Bend, except the Credit Union which doesn’t qualify) were also designated.
In addition, out-going members Joel Jackson and Bill Berryman were recognized by Mayor Mike Allison. “I appreciate your honesty and integrity as members of the Great Bend City Council,” Allison said as the gave them each a plaque in commemoration of their efforts.
• Discussed parking for the proposed new downtown movie theater. Promoters of the Cinema Six complex at Lakin and Kansas are seeking a reduction in the parking requirements mandated by city ordinance. A public hearing will be held at the first council meeting in May and a decision will be made at that time.
• Approved the city’s natural gas franchise ordinance with Kansas Gas Service. This is an updated ordinance that replaces one adopted in 1992 and was set to expire in June. There is a 5 percent franchise fee and it can be renegotiated every five years.
• Approved a cereal malt beverage license for Century Fuels at 5200 10th St. since there is a new manager at the business, and a tree trimmer, shrub treater license for Certified Tree Service.
• OKed a special use permit for AirGas Mid South, 800 East. 10th St. The company is seeking to exapnd its docks, storage and retail space. But, because many of the items it sells (medical and welding supplies) are considered hazardous, the permit is required for an expansion of more than 50 percent. The expansion includes about 6,000 square feet and other improvements.