Lansing City Council members listened to a number of residents Thursday who spoke for and against a plan to rezone a little more than 9 acres in the 24000 block of 139th Street to allow a landscaping business there.

Lansing City Council members listened to a number of residents Thursday who spoke for and against a plan to rezone a little more than 9 acres in the 24000 block of 139th Street to allow a landscaping business there.

The land, 24481 139th Street, is the site of Emmanuel Baptist Church, and is owned by Kenneth Lake, who requested the rezoning. Lake’s agent is Kevin Jensen, a Lansing landscaper who wants to move his business to that property. He has provided sketches of his plans to beautify the area to soften any adverse impact on the neighbors.

The Planning Commission heard the request on Jan. 18, and Stefanie Lief, community development director, said three members were absent. Three voted to deny the request and one more wanted more information, she said. Major concerns cited were traffic and the impact on the neighborhood.

Larry Dunn started off the comments of nearby residents, noting that he was concerned about the impact on the neighborhood. He was also concerned that the rezoning could lead to more commercial enterprises in that area butting up to his residence.

But another man who lived east of Dunn said it affected him more than it did Dunn and he had no problem with what Jensen wanted to do. “Its a big improvement to the property,” he said. He said he can look outside his picture window and see a small engine repair and body shop, but he has no problems with that either.

Another man in the neighborhood said he drives a big truck for a living and he thinks there’s no way tree trucks or trucks bringing in supplies to the business could  “buttonhole that turn,” so it would slow up traffic there.

But another man who worked on constructing the church said he brought construction supplies in a big truck to the church site with no problems.

That was pretty much the case throughout the discussion. One property owner pointed out problems and concerns with the plan, while others favored it as a beautifying addition to the neighborhood.

Council member Tony McNeill asked if there was some way the council could consider a conditional use permit to allow Jensen’s landscaping business there. He envisioned the property going back to its original zoning if Jensen’s business closed or if there were problems with it as it existed.

Another council member, Don Studnicka, also liked that idea.

Ron Barry, vice president of the planning commission, had said a big concern for his body was the future land use for this area, which is primarily single family residential. Allowing the landscaping business, he said, would amount to “spot zoning,” which is usually not a good thing. One option the commission suggested was remanding it to the Planning Commission as a rezoning to a planned overlay district. The applicant would have to submit as preliminary development plan as well as traffic study information.

John Jacobson, the city’s former community development director, represented Jensen at the meeting and he threw a new wrinkle into the equation. He said the land use map on the city’s website shows the area as commercial in the future. He also suggested review of KDOT’s corridor access plan for Highway 7.

City attorney Greg Robinson said he and Leif would like to look at various options that would be possible for that site, to include some sort of conditional use. They would supply council members an informational memo for review, once it came back to the council.

Initially, council member Jesse Garvey moved to remand this back to the planning commission, which was seconded by council member Gregg Buehler. Garvey said he thought there might be more discussion if it were remanded, since only four planning commissioners were there.

The question was asked, before a vote, if the intent was to have the planning commission look at all options, so Garvey withdrew the original motion and amended it to include the review of all options, and Buehler again seconded it. Council member Gene Kirby, sworn in Thursday to represent Ward 1, said to him it sounded like “I didn’t get what I want so I want another chance.”

McNeill said he saw it as a way for city staff to look at options and council member Dave Trinkle agreed.

Council member Andi Pawlowski mentioned an earlier comment that noted that the property, which had been annexed more than 10 years ago, still carried county zoning regulations. She wondered if that could be fixed.
After considerably more discussion, the council voted 4-4 on Garvey’s amended motion and Mayor Mike Smith voted yes to break the tie.

Those voting no were council members Kerry Brungardt, Studnicka, Kirby and Pawlowski. Those in favor are Garvey, Buehler, Trinkle and McNeill.