During a meeting that was standing-room-only at times, Sedgwick County commissioners again approved a conditional use permit Wednesday to allow Cook Airfield to expand its runway by 1,330 feet.
Commissioners also approved rezoning nearby land from rural residential to single family residential, making it possible for the airport's owners to develop homes with hangars.
Residents spoke in favor of and against the conditional use permit allowing the runway extension. Some said they supported owners Steve Logue and Greg Thomas' efforts to develop the area; others expressed concern about issues such as water drainage and how an expanded airport could affect their property values.
Commissioners earlier this year voted 3-2 to close a portion of 71st Street South between 127th and 143rd Streets East to enable Cook Airfield to expand its runway. The city of Derby opposed the road closure and has sued the county over the decision. Commissioners Tim Norton and Dave Unruh voted against the road closure.
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Commissioners voted unanimously earlier this year to allow the conditional use permit for the extended runway and to approve the rezoning. But two nearby property owners were not notified, causing the board to have to reconsider the issues.
Board Chairman Karl Peterjohn had to remind speakers several times that the road closure already had been decided and that commissioners were revisiting only the conditional use permit and request for rezoning.
Rose Hill City Administrator Kathy Raney said Rose Hill supported the expanded runway and planned development. Derby City Manager Kathy Sexton, a former assistant county manager, spoke out against both.
Tensions rose between Commissioner Gwen Welshimer and Sexton during one part of Wednesday's meeting.
Sexton was speaking against the zoning change and conditional use permit when Welshimer accused Sexton of not telling Derby residents all the facts about the issue. Welshimer also said she was not allowed to speak at a Derby meeting.
Sexton countered by saying that she received a request from Welshimer to speak for 20 minutes at a meeting. Sexton said she then asked Welshimer what she wanted to speak about but didn't hear back. Later, she said, Welshimer responded she wanted to talk about the airport, but it was after the meeting in question.
Welshimer then said that was "neither here nor there" and focused on allegations that Sexton did not tell Derby residents all the information they need to form opinions on matters.
"Are you saying I'm not doing my job?" Sexton responded.
Logue and Thomas have said they plan to develop 18 residential lots, as well as extend their runway, on land they own.