Leavenworth County commissioners have formally approved a land use plan for a County Road 1 corridor south of Tonganoxie.

Leavenworth County commissioners have formally approved a land use plan for a County Road 1 corridor south of Tonganoxie.

The concept approved by commissioners Wednesday includes areas of the corridor that can be used for commercial and industrial businesses as well as residential areas.

The County Road 1 corridor spans six miles south of Tonganoxie. The corridor also extends 1.5 miles to the west of County Road 1 and 1.5 miles to the east of County Road 1.

The corridor includes the county’s only interchange with the Kansas Turnpike.

County Road 1 also is known as 222nd Street.

The land use plan approved Wednesday was one of two concepts that were prepared as a result of a study by Vireo, a firm hired by the commission to do a land use analysis of the corridor.

Commissioners voted Wednesday to approve Concept A.

Krystal Voth, deputy director for the Leavenworth County Planning and Zoning Department, said the type of development envisioned in the concept could take many years.

“So we’re talking a few decades potentially,” she said.

She said the concept chosen by commissioners is the best way to recoup money that already has been spent on the area.

Jeff Joseph, director of the Planning and Zoning Department, said the county government spent about $15 million for improvements to County Road 1 with the intent of bringing economic development to the county. He later said the county and Kansas Turnpike Authority spent a total of about $24 million in the area.

Voth said the other option, Concept B, would allow for a little development but the land within the corridor would be used primarily for agricultural purposes.

Commissioners voted in favor of Concept A in February. But the recommendation then was presented to the Tonganoxie City Council for review.

The issue was brought back to the County Commission on Wednesday for a final vote.

Voth said county officials did not receive any feedback from the Tonganoxie City Council regarding which concept was preferred by the council members.

Curtis Oroke, who serves on the Tonganoxie City Council, attended Wednesday’s County Commission meeting.

Oroke said the City Council did not take a vote on the issue, but he believes council members lean in favor of Concept A.

County Commissioner Jeff Culbertson said the $24 million investment will not be recouped if the land in the corridor remains agricultural land.

Commissioner Mike Stieben said Concept A will allow landowners to maintain a rural character but it also will allow future growth.

Even with the approval of land use concept, Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said people who own property in the area will not have to change how they use their properties. She said they can continue to use the properties for agricultural purposes.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve Concept A. Commission Chairman Doug Smith voted against the motion.

Smith later said he voted against the motion because not all of the property owners in the corridor support the concept.

“I believe the property owners should be on board with it,” he said.

Commissioners also voted Wednesday to lift a development moratorium that impacted a portion of the corridor.

The moratorium was scheduled to expire at the end of the month. But Stieben said he believed commissioners should vote Wednesday to lift it.

Stieben said he thinks there is concern that earlier opposition to a proposal for a Tyson Foods plant made the county look like it is not business friendly.

“And I think that’s something we want to turn the corner on,” he said.

In 2017, officials with Tyson Foods announced plans to build a $320 million poultry plant on properties located off of County Road 1.

The project faced opposition from area residents. And Tyson Foods officials later announced that plans for the plant near Tonganoxie were being put on hold. The company eventually announced plans to open a new plant in Tennessee.

Also Wednesday, commissioners voted to approve a $1.01 million bid from Cutler Repaving, Lawrence, to resurface the six miles of County Road 1 that were improved in conjunction with the turnpike interchange, which opened in 2009.

Public Works Director Mike Spickelmier said the bid was solicited in September 2018.

“It’s time for some work to be done on the road,” Spickelmier said.

The vote to approve the bid was 4-1. Kaaz voted against the motion. She expressed concern that the resurfacing process being used for the project is too specialized for local contractors. She would have liked for the bid request to have included an alternative method that would have allowed companies in Leavenworth County to bid on the project.

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