Lee’s Summit City Council drives spike in enterprise zone

rpulley@lsjournal.comJune 11, 2013 

Lee’s Summit’s City Council took little time to spike a proposed economic development zone opposed by many homeowners.

Mayor Randy Rhoads opened a public hearing June 6, heard a few brief comments from Mark Dunning, a staff person working on the project, and promptly closed it after a consensus of the council to skip additional testimony.

The council voted to end pursuit of an EEZ. It was unanimous except for Rob Binney, who left the room and did not vote.

For months, the city considered the possibility of creating an Enhanced Enterprise Zone in the central part of the city. One requirement for the zone was to designate a broad area as blighted, which set off an outcry from property owners who feared their home values would fall.

As more homeowners heard about the proposal, the opposition swelled.

In apacked, hours-long informational meeting last month, attended by some of the council members, residents outlined a litany of objections and worries to the EEZ Advisory Board.

Residents filled nearly every one of 255 seats at council chamber, a rare event. Some stood at the rear.

When the council voted to kill the EEZ, the crowd cheered and applauded.

Councilman Allan Gray, before the vote, told the crowd he appreciated their participation and responses that helped the council make a decision.

He said it behooves them to become aware of situations facing the city and continue to help shape its decisions.

He asked the crowd to be prepared in the future to support other attempts to promote economic development.

“There will be other opportunities, there will be other options the city will no doubt look at as we try to continue to be great city that was established by our forefathers.” Gray said. “It is the responsibility of the council to make sure the city is a viable, vibrant, growing city that continues to move forward.”

Councilman Ed Cockrell noted that the council asked the volunteer EEZ Advisory Board to take on a difficult task researching the proposal. Its members faced some tough questioning from opponents during the informational meeting. He said he hoped board members would continue to volunteer and work with the city.

“The heat is my heat, not your heat,” Cockrell said.

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