A group of neighbors of the Menards proposed for the southwest corner of Patriot and Buckner are gathering opposition to zoning changes for the mega-retailer.
Several residents of the housing additions south of the corner have been passing petitions and over the weekend gained nearly 100 signatures against the zoning change. A second zoning application for the area would also allow the city of Derby to build a third fire station just north of the Buckner and Sandhill intersection.
For Joy Heitman, who lives with her family on the northwest corner of the Old Ranch housing addition, the new Menards will virtually be right outside her back windows. At present, the family has a nice view of undeveloped land.
“We loved the view from our deck,” she said. “Now we will be looking at Menards’ trash cans.”
Despite losing the view, Heitman said she has concerns that the community cannot support a second large home improvement store. She also is concerned with the fact that an entrance will be on Buckner, drawing traffic to a street where children cross without a cross walk to go to school.
Heitman and a close neighbor had already talked about their concerns for their back yards, but did not initially find other neighbors as concerned with the coming change. She readily joined zoning opposition efforts when the opportunity came along.
“I was surprised when someone knocked on our door and felt the same way I did,” she said.
Other neighbors expressed the same sentiment, but were not willing to talk on the record. Most said they are not opposed to Menards specifically, but would like to see the retailer choose a location further north which is already zoned for B-5.
The bulk of the property is currently owned by Bill Lusk. Menards has the land under contract for purchase, contingent upon gaining the necessary zoning and other permits which would allow the 167,000 square foot retail building to be constructed.
Currently, the property is the Old Ranch Commercial Addition, which is primarily zoned B-3, the “General Business” designation for the city and residential. General business zoning is primarily retail and is the zoning used to build the Derby Marketplace and Hampton Inn on Rock Road, according to Charlie Brown, city director of community development.
Most of the property would be changed to B-5 zoning, or “Restricted Commercial, Warehousing and Limited Manufacturing,” if the zoning change is approved. Frontage parcels on the east side of Buckner, from the 2400 block of North Buckner to Patriot, and on the south side of Patriot, west of Buckner, will be B-3 zoning.
A two-acre site, immediately north of the Old Ranch housing addition on Buckner, could become the site of the third city fire station. Building the estimated $1.6 million facility is on the city’s capital improvement list for 2015.
City Manager Kathy Sexton said the city has not committed to an agreement to purchase the property, which currently is part of a five-acre tract with a home. The city wants to see what the planning commission decides on the zoning before proceeding with a potential purchase or commitment on the property, she said.
Brown said Menards can proceed under the current B-3 zoning, but would have to get a variance for its outdoor storage areas. The city will also have to gain permission for a special use permit for its fire station, if it is built at this location. Sexton said the city believes the fire station would be an appropriate buffer between the residential homes and the commercial development.
Specific questions on the scope of the project and why Menards is requesting the zoning changes were sent to a Menards spokesperson. Those questions were not answered, but the company issued a statement.
“If the zoning request is approved, we hope to begin the final approval process because we hope to some day build a new store on this property in Derby,” said Jeff Abbott, spokesperson. “We recently built two new, beautiful stores on the east and west sides in Wichita and both have been very well received by the community.
“Should things go as planned, this potential new super-sized store in Derby would also provide the best in home improvement products at the lowest prices in the area plus provide many economic benefits, including job creation and tax revenue.”
"A Menard's is completely unnecessary. With the store's flags flapping in the wind, it will truly be an eyesore for Derby. If we wanting larger companies to purchase land in build in Derby, why not go with something that this town does not yet have? I agree with others that a Hobby Lobby would be welcomed! Or why not new restaurants. It would be great to promote more local businesses if possible. Menards is tacky."
"Menards do this in every city. They build right next to Lowes or Home Depot and get the other out of business. Plus Lowes pays more to employees. Mernards will charge minimum wage. So if they come in, it will create more problems in the economy. Plus, for any of the houses next to it, the value of the houses will go down and vandalism will increase. So Menards will only cause more problems."
"Stop belly aching. Menards can bring tax dollars to Derby and you will benefit from it with road, parks, etc. Menards wants to come to Derby, you should embrace that idea. It might not be the most convenient place for some, but not everyone can be happy. It won't be another Cabelas, but it will be a great addition. So, STOP crying about it. If you don't, they will pull the deal and someone else worse will move in. Or Derby will become know as the cry babies of the county and businesses will stop coming to Derby."
"Sorry Old Ranch Resident but the parcel where the Menard's will be built is NOT in a residential area. I'm sorry you all bought houses next to a field that is zoned for commercial development but you should have done your research!!!"
"Dale Shelton you are biased on if this is a good opportunity for our city because your son will be opening your family business next to the new Menards. These business are too cheap to buy the land next to Kohls or on the other side of the gas station, because those are charging alot more per acre so instead they buy cheaper residential land and attempt to rezone it. Derby isn't a big enough town to have every business that Wichita has. Is it going to be like Cabelas in wichita where they get to charge 10% tax and pocket the other 2.2%? will we welcome them here also? I live on the other side of Derby and can see this will not be a positive for our city in the long run."
"how do you think Derby is gonna look when Lowes or Menards supersized buildings sit empty? LIKE WHITE TRASH is that really what Derby wants? one is going to win eventually. The majority of items purchased at Menards would have been purchased at Lowes or Atwoods, so the tax revenue won't change much, but once one of those stores is sitting vacant like the old dillons it will be the first thing people see when coming from the K-15 into Derby, not a good impression if one goes empty."
"Economic benefits, job creation and taxd revenue will be great for Derby, but not in a residential area. Look at all the space available on Rock Road or behind Kohls. This will be great for the city but NOT in a residential area. "
"I think the plans sounds like a great opportunity for the city of Derby. Any change always upset someone."
"Quit your crying, nothing wrong with a menards where they want it to go, we need it, it will bring jobs, Lowe's in my opinion have gotten to big for their britches, they are not customer friendly any more, they've gotten like Walmart, no help no where, sales people walk right on past you, no can I help you, no Hello no nothing and when I went to the Menards in Wichita I got everything I wanted so suck it up, pass the zoning request and let em build and if you ask me to sign the petition I'll tell you to put it well you know where :))"