August 23, 2002
There is very good news today: Regency by the Lake has succeeded in the fight it led to prevent Extreme Ford from moving an auto repair shop with all of its toxic emissions next to their neighborhood. The repair shop at 14885 Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park, KS, would have directly abutted homes.
Arrayed against the neighbors were
- Extreme Ford, which could not comprehend why neighbors objected to having toxic pollutants dumped on them;
- The Overland Park Planning Commission, which refused to consider environmental issues;
- The Overland Park City Council, which would not even take up the matter after the neighborhood discovered the zoning mistakes made in the 1990's:
By reviewing minutes from that era the neighbors discovered that the current zoning of CP-3 (the most intense retail commercial in Overland Park) had been shown as CP-1 (the least intense) when the City Council approved the building of homes next to the lot. After homes were built, the maps were changed back to CP-3.
Abandoned by the City, Regency by the Lake initiated a lawsuit and began picketing. Every Saturday neighbors picketed Extreme Ford, publicizing how unwanted this autobody shop was. Only after the lawsuit and the picketing did the owner decide to withdraw the application.
Both the Kansas City Star and the Overland Park Sun published stories on this victory by the neighbors. Rob Roberts' article in the Sun, a balanced, informative story, was not published on-line. The Star published two stories. A short Star article "Shop Plans Shelved" is available but you will have to scroll to the bottom of the Metro section to find it. A longer story in the Neighborhood section by Barbara Hollingsworth on Saturday is also available: "Cost kills plan for body shop". It is, however, the view of the neighbors that it was not the cost, but the public and legal pressure brought by the neighborhoods that killed this body shop.
The owner of the Extreme Ford dealership, Bob Balderston, and his attorney Greg Musil, said the project did not make economic sense and that was the reason for the withdrawal. Musil at least admitted: "I can't say [the picketing] didn't have an impact", according to a quote in the Sun.
Congratulations to Amy Rush, Tom Coon, Rick Hinds, Chris Rasmussen, and all the other folks who turned this into a victory for common sense, health, and the welfare of residents.
These articles have been published or linked from NeighborhoodNet about this fight: