Archive for Thursday, June 4, 1998


June 4, 1998


Commissioners struggle with zoning request, saying they wish they could have found a way to help business owner.

They said they didn't like doing it, but Douglas County commissioners denied a business owner's request Wednesday to completely move his operations to the county, where he hoped to sell cars.

Howard Smith already stores and works on cars at the site on the south side of Kansas Highway 10 across from the East Hills Business Park.

But he hoped to be able to sell them there as well, essentially moving his 23rd Street business to the county.

Smith requested rezoning the land from agricultural to light industrial. It was his second such request and the second time he came away with a ``no'' answer.

Planning staff recommended denial. Staff also recommended that Smith petition for annexation into the city and a zoning requested for a planned industrial district.

Commissioner Mark Buhler said he didn't think Smith needed to rezone his entire property when he didn't need that much space to sell cars.

``What you're asking for is a basket this big,'' Buhler said, stretching his arms out like he was playing guard in a basketball game. Downsizing his span, he added, ``what you're wanting fits into a cup this big.''

Buhler said he couldn't support the light-industrial zoning. Such zoning should be in the city, not the county, he said.

``It's no way to plan a community,'' he said, adding if he had been a commissioner in the '50s, he wouldn't have supported allowing the Farmland fertilizer plant and FMC Corp. to build in the county.

Exceptions might exist, Buhler said, but he said no one could convince him the county needs a used car lot.

``People out in the county just aren't calling us and saying `We really need a car lot out here' '' Buhler said.

Before they voted unanimously to deny Smith's request, commissioners told him that they wished they could have helped him, especially because he plans to retire in the near future and wouldn't need the zoning for a long period of time. Chairman Tom Taul asked planning staff if any tools were in place to grant Smith a temporary variance. None were.

``We're always looking for ways to help people, and I kind of feel like we let Mr. Smith down,'' chairman Tom Taul said.

However, he also noted that the denial won't put Smith out of business. He still can sell cars at his 23rd Street location.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is

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