Engineered Air rezoning clears first city hurdle
Company’s application prelude to major expansion
The De Soto Planning Commission recommended approval Tuesday of Engineered Air's request to rezone 15 acres south of its current plant but warned a site plan to expand the plant would face much sterner questions.
When De Soto plant manager Don Gray spoke last spring to The De Soto Explorer of the plant's then proposed -- and now ongoing -- 25,000-square-foot-expansion, he said De Soto was one of several sites being considered for another major expansion.
The rezoning, which will now go to the De Soto City Council, would allow Engineered Air to expand its 110,000-square-foot plant by the 90,000 to 100,000 square feet it needs, Gray said. If the council agrees with the planning commissioners' recommendation, the property would be rezoned from general business to heavy industrial.
Gray said Engineered Air officials looked at options other than going south but with the Kill Creek flood plain to the east, there wasn't much choice.
At the public hearing for the rezoning, several of the plant's neighbors expressed concerns about the proposed expansion or took the opportunity to address concerns about the current expansion, which required neither a rezoning nor site plan approval.
Doug Bedford, who said he had been approached by Engineered Air representatives about the possibility of selling his home, said he moved to the property with the understanding there would be some issues associated with living next to an industrial plant.
But, Bedford said if he stayed in the home he would want buffering and other steps taken to mitigate noise and odors coming from the plant.
Mark Leiston of 8295 Kaw Drive said he would welcome selling out to Engineered Air because of the ongoing expansion. He now has a construction site abutting his back yard, making it an unsuitable play area for his two children, he said.
In response to Leiston's question about the removal of a walking trail that crossed what is now a construction site, city engineer Mike Brungardt said the city was given permission to place a trail there by Engineered Air but not an easement. It was always understood Engineered Air would expand in that area and such an expansion was shown on the plant's original 1991 site plan.
The rezoning came to the planning commission with a city staff recommendation for approval. The only negative finding for the 12 points to Kansas law requires it be considered in rezonings was the one that it would be detrimental to neighboring properties.
Planning commissioners told Gray they would want to have those addressed in a site plan to protect the plant's neighbors and shield it from one of the city's prominent entry points.