July 3, 2002
Neighbors owning property within 1000 feet of the proposed rezoning near 159th & Metcalf just south of Overland Park, Kansas, have collected over 140 signatures on a legal protest petition that was turned in to Johnson County today. These neighbors own 32.4% of the property within 1000 feet. If Johnson County validates the petition, it will take 4 out of 5, instead of 3 out of 5, of the County Commissioners to approve the proposed rezoning and preliminary plan. The legal requirement was that owners of 20% of the property within 1000 feet sign the petition.
Three neighborhoods fall within 1000 feet: Blue Valley Riding, Steck Plantation, and Willowbend. A substantial portion of eligible homeowners in each subdivision signed the petition. [See blow by blow account of getting this petition.] Many other neighborhoods and homes associations representing over 1500 homes including Creekside, Fox Chase, Green Meadows, Sylvan Lakes, Blue Valley Paddock, and others beyond the 1000 foot boundary have been contributing to the effort by providing volunteers, writing letters, making phone calls, etc.
Developer Wishes To Overturn Master Plan
The developer wishes to rezone the property - which the Master Plan designates for all residential development - into all PRB-3 zoning, the most intensive retail commercial zoning in Johnson County. Since even this is not sufficient for his plans, the developer has asked for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to allow buildings 50 feet tall (the equivalent of 5 stories).
The preliminary plan for the 31 acres calls for a building with 230,000+ square feet of retail space, along with 8 additional buildings. Tenants for these buildings have not yet been identified, but the largest building would be sufficient to simultaneously hold both a SuperTarget and a Kohl's department store. Over 1500 parking spaces are on the plans.
Rather than generating under 1000 car trips a day, as envisioned by the Master Plan, this project would generate over 13,500 according to a study by the developer.
Almost no justification for overturning the Master Plan was provided by the developer, other than it might generate a lot of tax revenue for the County.
Overland Park Planning bluntly opposed the plan in its comments to Johnson County, as did Johnson County Planning itself, and both emphasized that the Master Plan called for residential lots only on the property. The developer attempted to tell the Oxford Township Zoning Board that there was room for interpretation of whether the plan could include commercial. The Oxford Township Zoning Board formally voted unanimously against the plan, also pointing out the property was Master Planned for all residential.
Neighbors are overwhelmingly opposed to this plan. They point out that Overland Park and Johnson County jointly developed the Master Plan for this area. When doing so, the planners decided upon a reasonable mix of light commercial on 3 corners to be balanced by the all residential 4th corner. The all residential fourth corner not only provides needed residential dwellings, it also provides a transition from the one acre homes that abut the property to the urban density homes expected on Metcalf across from the light commercial development.
Neighbors began collecting signatures on the Protest Petition on the first Saturday after the Oxford Township Zoning Board voted to recommend denial of the development. They had two weeks to complete the task and turn in the signatures. The residents set up a small table at the neighborhood pool and notarized signatures on the petition as property owners stopped by. By late Sunday afternoon there were signatures for 20% of the property. After that, neighbors arranged to stop by individual homes to get signatures and raised the total to over 30%.
Now the proposal goes to the Johnson County Commissioners on July 25, who can do pretty much whatever they want - accept, deny, or delay. That meeting is during the morning at 9:30 on a weekday, but interested neighbors should try their best to attend. The meeting will not be a public forum, but interested parties who have additional information to contribute will be given an opportunity to do so, according to Roger Kroh, Director of Planning.