Derby Bed and Breakfast given green light, appeal planned

A proposal to establish a bed and breakfast inn was approved by the Derby Planning Commission at its Aug. 4 meeting, but nearby residents plan to continue their fight to help stop the business by filing a protection petition.

At issue is a plan by Kathy Wills and her son, Morgan, to open the business in their house at 9400 S. Greenwich.

Although their property is outside of Derby’s city limits and in incorporated Sedgwick County, it falls in what is known as its area of influence, thus the commission has a say in the concept. According to projections, the city is expected to grow and expand to the area where Wills’ nine-acre property is.

The plan passed the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission earlier in the day by an 8-0 vote. Derby’s vote was 7-1 with member Patrick Baer voting no.

Briefing the commission, City Planner Cody Bird said that the plan would mean no structural changes to the existing walkout ranch home, which was built in 1975.

Kathy Wills said the family came up with the inn idea as a way to make some extra income along with being a service to the area, especially for those looking for extra room for visiting relatives.

Sometimes it’s hard to find a place to stay around here,” she said.

The city has a hotel, the Hampton Inn on North Rock, but Wills said it is often fully booked and potential customers have to move on to Wichita for lodging. There is a hotel at the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, but Wills said not all families are comfortable staying at a casino property.

As planned, the inn would have four bedrooms. A fifth bedroom would be used by the host and there would always be one on site, she said.

However, the concept didn’t sit well with several neighbors of the Wills who showed up to voice their protest.

I’m strongly against it,” said Denise Evans, who lives nearby in the 11400 block of E. 95th St. South, and added that she doesn’t see the need for it.

“There’s nothing there,” she said.

There also was another bed and breakfast venture attempted in the area and it didn’t succeed, she said.

Evans also is concerned about having “total strangers” staying near her property, saying there have been a number of break-ins in the area, including two at her residence.

Bob Kennedy, who lives in the 9200 block of S. Greenwich, also said he was concerned about having a transient population in the neighborhood. In addition, he voiced worry about whether the Wills’ current sewage system could handle a commercial operation.

But Kennedy’s overriding concern was simply that it would change the nature of the otherwise all single-family community.

“I don’t think we need a business in our neighborhood,” he said.

After the vote, Kathy Wills said her neighbors’ fears, especially about potential crime, were unfounded.

The type of clients who would be staying there are not ones who would be resorting to crime, she said. In addition, the business would have all their personal data along with their financial information, such as credit card numbers, so any client could be quickly found if need be.

For her part, Evans said she will aggressively pursue the only option left to stop the business: a petition from the majority of the nine property owners in the surrounding area. She has 14 days to get the document filed and it needs to be signed by 20 percent of landowners within a 1,000-foot radius.

“This is not the end of it,” Evans said. “They’re going to be taking a second look at it.”

If the protest petition is completed and accepted, it will be up to the Sedgwick County Commission to deal with the issue. To override the protest, the commission must issue a three-quarters majority vote.

The Derby City Council has no say in the matter.