• Charlie Schwartz of Wichita spoke for Skip Noltensmeyer, who collected 150 signatures on a petition opposing the B-5 zoning change, but had to be out of town at the time of the meeting. Another seven in attendance at the meeting turned their time over to Schwartz.
He stressed that the residents purchased their homes believing the future development would be light commercial. In addition, he questioned whether the city was keeping less than 20 percent in a floor-to-area ratio with the Menards’ development. The percentage keeps development along the Accident Potential Zone within standards set by the Air Force.
“That’s a decision all of you have to weigh,” he said. “Don’t change the zoning.”
• John Cocking, 23-year-resident of Sandhill Court, told the commission he remembered when the property was a working ranch.
“Slowly but surely, we’ve lost that,” he said. “I really have a problem of waking up every morning and looking at the back of Menards.”
• Rolf Beers asked the commission to consider the fact that trucks run all night behind Walmart and light spills into the neighborhood. He asked the commission to consider limiting operating hours for the businesses and closing Buckner to commercial traffic.
• Karen Dunlap said she moved to the community because it was not busy.
“It was because it was simply a beautiful place to be living with green areas all around,” she said. “I do know it takes lots to go away from the comprehensive plan, so I would question why you would go against the comprehensive plan.”
• Kelly Labeth and Mike Grady chose their home because it overlooks a native area and they see wildlife and storms as they approach.
“One of the major draws of it was the country-style living within the community,” Labeth said. “I’m scared to death we’re going to have the trash cans and outdoor storage across the back.”
• Caleb Howell, 20, said he has lived in Derby most of his life, but now a longtime friend is moving from Derby because of the Menards.
“It stinks to have your friends have to move away,” he said.
• Monte Fry said he believes the city is being swayed by dollars and cents which Menards has promised. The sales will come at a loss to Lowes and the Big Tool Store, he said.
“Sales at Menards will not materialize out of thin air,” he said. “What we have is the pie, so to speak, is going to be split into smaller pieces.”
• Duane Way said he moved to Derby for its family atmosphere.
“Come back to the point of being a family environment,” he said. “We need to have a long-term outlook and not just a short term. Do we want to be just another area to go and shop or a place to come and live and raise our children and grandchildren?”
• Jeremy Heitman said he moved to Derby from a larger California community, which had been impacted by BRAC. He asked the commission to reject the Menards proposal.
“I want to be proud of this community,” he said.
• Troy Pulver encouraged a transition from residential to commercial areas.
“It really occurs to me that there is no buffer zone between the residential and the commercial area,” he said.
• Paul Soutar said his home needs $45,000 in foundation repair due to the soil type – the same clay soil on which Menards plans to build. Previous Planning Commissions, city staff, developers and contractors approved his homesite without checking on the soil conditions, he said.
“I don’t have faith in this type of organization anymore because of that,” he said, encouraging the commission to change that attitude.
• Joyce Bertrand said she grew up in Eau Claire, Wisc., also the hometown of Menards. Over the years she has lived in several communities where Menards is located and she was complimentary of the company.
“I personally have nothing bad to say about Menards,” she said. “I would go to Menards.”
When a person in the audience called out that she was a “set up” speaker, Bertram said she lives in Derby because she married a Derby resident.
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