July 25, 2002
Facing a packed hearing room, Johnson County, KS, Commissioners voted at today's hearing to send a very contentious development proposal at 159th/Metcalf back to the Oxford Township Zoning Board for a second hearing on Sept. 19 to reexamine certain issues.
The directive, put forth by Commissioner Annabeth Surbaugh, instructs the Oxford Township Zoning Board (TZB) to again examine 4 issues:
- The effects of the proposed development on adjacent roadways and improvements the applicant might be willing to make;
- The incompatibility of the proposed development on the residential property adjacent to the east;
- The appropriate land use and zoning for this property; and
- That factors may have influenced the decision to designate the property as "transition" and whether conditions have changed such that a different designation would be more appropriate.
The directive requests that after these four issues are addressed, the TZB shall determine if there are any changes from their earlier recommendation.
The county commissioners voted to approve Surbaugh's directive with Commissioner Susie Wolf casting the dissenting vote. Commissioner Wolf said, "I cannot vote for this because I cannot violate the current zoning in that area." Wolf admonished the developer to talk to the surrounding community and develop a project both sides could agree on.
After the meeting, Commissioner Surbaugh indicated that a directive, once issued, was difficult to rescind. This development is occurring in Surbaugh's Third District--and she has a track record of being fair to both sides and responsive to community concerns. It should be emphasized: Surbaugh offered her directive in lieu of a second directive crafted by Doug Wood which would have asked that the height and orientation of the big box stores be addressed in order to make this project more acceptable to the neighborhood.
It should also be emphasized that we need two commissioners to oppose this project on the final vote from the Township Zoning Board in order to defeat this development. We hope that the final vote will include Wolf, Surbaugh, and other commissioners.
Sending the project back to the TZB means that there will be a second hearing on this matter on Sept. 19 with recommendations coming from the Board after they reexamine the directive issues. The TZB is free to again conclude that this project cannot be recommended. At the first June 20 hearing, the TZB voted unanimously to deny recommending this project. Johnson County Planning Staff had also recommended that this project be denied--as it violated all Golden Criteria used to evaluate rezoning projects.
At issue is a proposal by developers to rezone 31 acres on the SE corner of 159th/Metcalf to PRB-3 zoning--the most intense commercial zoning allowed in Johnson County. The Blue Valley Plan, the master plan which controls the development of this tract--calls for this area to be "transition" which means residential at possible urban densities.
Speaker after speaker from the surrounding neighborhoods stood up to offer their assessment of the proposal; Jack Epps, representing Blue Valley Plaza, Inc--the investment group of this proposal, presented his views.
One thing is for sure--there is sure to be a lively second hearing ahead!