When Shawnee City Commissioners met Monday, they revisited a deferred planning item concerning the former Kmart building.

When Shawnee City Commissioners met Monday, they revisited a deferred planning item concerning the former Kmart building.

Following a public hearing, owners of 2327 N. Harrison Ave. got the rezone they hoping for — from CP; Planned Shopping Center District to C-3; Highway Commercial District. Community Development Director Justin DeBruin said the current use versus what's allowed for C-3 are basically identical.

The site is set to be repurposed as a U-Haul Moving and Storage Store.

Boasting just more than eight acres, the property has a lot of room to fill — too much for the average business opportunity. Ever since the plans were announced, DeBruin said there is a limited market interest in the reuse of the former Kmart building, which spans 84,000 square feet.

DeBruin said applicant Amerco Real Estate Company, a real estate subsidiary of U-Haul, for the last 10 years has made it a business to repurpose larger abandoned sites that tend to go unused.

“Our uses will consist of indoor climate-controlled self-storage, U-Haul truck and trailer-sharing and related retail sales,” Scott Brackin, marketing company president, U-Haul Company of Oklahoma, said.

Likely 50,000 square feet of the building will be used for storage, he said.

“Customers would be able to drive inside and load/unload out of the rain, cold or hot weather,” he said. “I believe we are offering Shawnee residents something different than what's around right now.”

Area residents, however, have voiced disapproval at the plan.

Several from the Northridge Addition — directly east of the site — have aired concerns at each meeting along the course of approval.

Many in opposition attended the March 7 Planning meeting and more gathered for the City's hearing last month. The item was deferred to Monday's meeting where, again, area neighbors reiterated their worries about potential crime/drugs/vagrancy, noise, unwanted traffic, property damage and safety issues. Additional complaints included views that there are already too many storage businesses and a U-Haul truck-loaded parking lot is an eye-sore.

Over the past couple months, multiple times it was suggested by the neighbors that a retail business or grocery store would be more desired.

On that note, Mayor Richard Finley said, “We're not in a position to — it is not up to us to market the building.”

Finley said the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation (SEDF) has worked diligently to market the site.

He said he is absolutely convinced that, of the available options, this is the best one for residents.

“Remember, I moved into the (former) Safeway building (Finley & Cook on Broadway) after it had been vacant for 20 years,” he said. “Things like that do have a way of happening.”

He said if a grocery store or something similar comes in at the site, there's going to be traffic, lights and loading docks in the back.

To address some of the objections, four conditions were added to the agreement:

• Fencing or a vegetative six-foot barrier that U-Haul would be financially responsible for constructing

• No equipment is to be stored on the east side of the building (behind the building, closest to the bordering neighborhood)

• No dock or commercial accessibility on the east side

• U-Haul agrees to direct its customers to not primarily use neighboring roads (Dunloup to the north and the service road on the south to Walls parking lot)

City Attorney Joe Vorndran said he expects the draft agreement could be formalized this week.

On each point, Brackin has consistently responded with an eagerness to work toward an agreeable solution.

The board voted in favor of the rezone 5-1-1, City Commissioner Shaw was a solitary no-vote; City Commissioner Dub Bushong abstained.