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Written by Erren Harter
Recently I attended the Emporia Planning Commission hearing on the proposed development of the Peak land located north of 24th Avenue near Wal-Mart not necessarily to oppose but to express concern about the buffer between the site and our land to the north.
The Planning Commission listened politely to the developers, a couple of supporters, several not very happy home owners, me and then rejected the proposal, 5-2.
This was disappointing because I was hoping for a dialogue about the buffer. My assumption was the Planning Commission would ask questions. Neither they, nor the developers ask anything!
The developer said it isn’t financially feasible for the Peak property to be a residential development. No one challenged that assertion with which I agree.
No one asked the rather vocal attorney who lives adjacent to the Peak property what kind of development he would be willing to accept.
It seemed the purpose of the Planning Commission that night was to find a reason to say “no” rather than to look for a reason to say “yes.” That attitude does not serve Emporia’s needs very well.
Until the Peak property is developed in some manner it appears development in other areas of Emporia will be stymied because potential companies like Hy-Vee or Dillon’s are interested ONLY in that tract.
A good question is what are the Peak family’s desires for the use of their land? My understanding is residential isn’t their choice even though it is zoned that way.
This I believe: If Emporia is to grow we must find a way to increase the size of our retail community.
Leakage, purchases made by local folks outside our area, is a serious problem or maybe better said - a tremendous opportunity.
Leakage is easily documented and Emporia’s is severe. Officials of a large Topeka based company once shared that receipts in their stores from the 66801 zip code annually exceed a million dollars!
No one wants or seeks competition, but without new businesses Emporia will stay as it is – no, that’s not true – without new business growth Emporia will continue to shrink.
Opportunity may be knocking, but at this point I’m not sure Emporia knows what the questions are, let alone the answers.
I’m Steve Sauder.