Acreage near Wichita Mid-Continent Airport will be rezoned for use as an industrial park, which could help pave the way for economic development.
The Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition has been pushing for a shovel-ready site for an industrial park for a few years. Sedgwick County last year entertained the idea of spending $14 million to buy and improve about 800 acres in Bel Aire but decided against it.
On Wednesday, county commissioners approved a private effort to develop an industrial park.
They gave a unanimous go-ahead — with Commissioner Gwen Welshimer absent — to rezone 216 acres from single-family residential to industrial park. The land is in two parcels southeast of 119th Street West and 31st Street South, and northwest of Maize Road and 31st Street South.
The land is owned by John Dugan. He also owns 130 acres just to the east and south of the site already zoned for industrial park.
City and county planning director John Schlegel told commissioners that there are higher standards to meet in an industrial park zone than for limited industrial. Such zoning, he said, also eliminates a number of uses that could be considered objectionable to neighbors. The landowner originally requested rezoning to limited industrial.
Commissioner Tim Norton, in whose district the land lies, said the zoning change helps open opportunities for economic development.
"I think it has implications of some of the items we've talked about the last two to three years," he said.
Norton said he hadn't received any calls from property owners against the plan.
He said he was glad the land would be rezoned as industrial park instead of limited industrial.
"There are uses under LI that may not be compatible to the neighborhood," Norton said. "This fits the bill."
Robert Kaplan, lawyer for the land owner, earlier told the planning commission that Dugan hoped to develop large distribution centers on the property. He said airports in other areas, such as Louisville, Ky., have been "boxed in" by residential development.