MidwayUSA won its appeal to rezone 193 acres at the intersection of Route J and U.S. 40 from agricultural to industrial zoning Tuesday night.
MidwayUSA plans to build new headquarters on the land. The company sells ammunition, hunting and shooting accessories and outdoor equipment. The new headquarters will be built in phases, with the first phase being the construction of a 300,000-square-foot warehouse.
Eventually, the company will relocate to the new headquarters from its current location at 5875 W. Van Horn Tavern Road. The new headquarters will include a 1-million-square-foot warehouse and offices once it’s built.
The appeal came before the Boone County Commission after the request for rezoning was denied by the Boone County Planning & Zoning Commission on Nov. 21 in a 6-1 vote. The county commission voted for the rezoning 2-1 with only standing room available in the commission chambers. Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill and Southern District Commissioner Fred Parry voted for the rezoning, and Northern District Commissioner Janet Thompson voted against.
Residents who live near the upcoming development voiced concerns at Tuesday’s meeting and at the Nov. 21 zoning commission meeting. Their concerns centered on how the development would disrupt the largely agricultural area.
“We believe if industrial zoning is allowed in this wide-open area of agricultural land, it won’t be long before adjoining land will go industrial,” Garland Middendorf said at the meeting. Middendorf said he has lived in a home near the proposed site for 49 years.
Other concerns included increased traffic, decline in property values and possible wastewater runoff into a stream that could harm nearby cattle. Some didn’t want a concrete building across from their house in the country.
Tim Crockett, principal engineer for the project, and Shawn White, a traffic engineer, tried to put some of the concerned residents at ease. Crockett said all county stormwater regulations will be followed. White said the roads were safe for both cars and trucks. The developer also plans to improve the roads by adding turn lanes, and MoDOT has plans to add a shoulder on Route J in 2021.
There are also plans to add landscaping in front of the building in order to hide it from the view of residents, according to a county staff report.
Larry Potterfield, owner of MidwayUSA, summarized how he felt about the concerns before residents spoke.
“They’re going to say that your professional staff is wrong. They’re going to say Crockett Engineering is wrong. They’re going to say the state is wrong,” Potterfield said.
Potterfield’s case for the rezoning focused on the economic development the new headquarters would bring. He said MidwayUSA currently employs 360 people and as the company’s sales grow at approximately 7.3% annually, the number of jobs at the company would also increase.
Potterfield also said it would bring in around $4.5 million in property taxes. Both Parry and Atwill cited economic development as a reason they voted for the rezoning, but this reason was not strong enough for Thompson.
Thompson said she was concerned about how the proposal would “fundamentally change the character of the area,” which a staff report said would happen if the rezoning passed. She also expressed her belief that zoning regulations give residents a sense of certainty and that approving this rezoning would limit the county’s ability to meet this goal in the future.
Parry said he was upset over how residents were notified of the development via letter. He said he wished there were more opportunities for residents to discuss the development with Potterfield, which the MidwayUSA owner expressed regret over at the meeting.
However, Parry said the county needed to weigh the possibility of losing jobs, and he said the $4.5 million in tax revenue is hard to turn down. He indicated he would be “holding his nose” while voting in support of the rezoning.
Atwill supported the rezoning primarily for economic reasons. He said that while he respects the Planning & Zoning Commission, this rezoning has an economic component that needed to be considered. Groans could be heard throughout the chamber as he indicated he would be voting in favor of the rezoning; it was a nail in the coffin for concerned residents’ hopes of stopping the development at the meeting.
After Atwill and Parry said they would vote in favor of the rezoning, Thompson said, “The barn door will be open, and we won’t be able to even catch the horses.”
The Commission also approved a rezoning request for Old Hawthorne Development to build CoMo Rocks rock climbing facility off Route WW. The 7 acres will now be zoned as planned light industrial, the same as that approved for MidwayUSA.Supervising editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.