Smaller cities largely kept their zoning power just beyond their city boundaries intact.
After two hours of debate Wednesday, the county commission and the smaller cities of Sedgwick County forged a compromise over the reach of city zoning review.
Some commissioners had expressed interest in eliminating zoning areas of influence, which give cities like Derby and Haysville a formal vote in zoning cases outside their city boundaries. The cities want this authority to keep tabs on what is getting built around them, but some commissioners call the process repetitive and confusing to property owners.
Those commissioners did not have the votes to override a Metropolitan Area Planning Commission recommendation that tried to bridge the gap between the cities and the county.
So county commmissioners voted 4-1 for a version of that compromise. It keeps zoning areas of influence but bases them on growth projections, which are less expansive than the previous zoning areas. It also speeds up the timeline for city review of zoning changes and lowers the number of county commissioners required to override a city’s objection to a zoning change.
Derby City Manager Kathy Sexton said she was largely pleased with the result.
“The new process will be a little more beneficial toward developers in terms of time,” Sexton said. “But it doesn’t hurt the cities, because the cities are still allowed to speak and allowed to invite the community in.”
Commission Chairman Richard Ranzau was the only commissioner to vote against the compromise, saying it was too “city-centric.” He said city review of zoning cases out in the county tramples on the property rights of those who can’t vote for local city councils.
“It gives the small cities an extra vote, not the property owner,” Ranzau said. “That’s the problem I have. In this constitutional republic, personal property rights got to be at least equal with governmental authority.”