October 31, 2002
The audience attending a packed hearing today was stunned when county commissioners voted a second time to delay hearing the proposal for the southeast corner of 159th/Metcalf. It will be continued for one week and will be heard on November 7, 2002.
A continuance (delay) of one week was sought because information was submitted during the late hours of Wednesday night outlining stipulations to be put on this development. Commissioner Wolf had indicated more time was needed to review this material.
Commissioner Surbaugh: "Bad Plan"
Developers are seeking a massive retail commercial district with PRB-3 zoning (the most intense zoning allowed in Johnson County), even though the Blue Valley Master Plan calls for this property to be residential with possible urban densities. Developers are also proposing that approximately 7 acres of this property be developed into a PRU-3 zoning district that would allow 9 units per acre. They are proposing 24 town homes with two stories at 35 feet. Citizens have cried foul--pointing out only 3.2 acres are actually residential and that the remaining acreage proposed for residential is, in fact, a 1.6 acre detention pond, a wetland area, and acreage which runs down the middle of a road--all land that could never be used as residential.
Annabeth Surbaugh was quick to point out that this was a bad plan: Johnson County Planners and Overland Park Planners said "no" twice, and the Oxford Township Zoning Board said "no" twice. Surbaugh said that approving this plan would set a bad precedent, allowing developers to violate the master plan as long as they proposed a transportation district to deal with the side effects.
Overland Park Does Not Support Road Plan
In order to address the massive traffic that this project would create, 11,170 vehicles a day as opposed to 970 vehicles if residential was followed by the master plan, developers are seeking to create a transportation district. This transportation district would help finance roads by using sales taxes to construct 4-lane roads on just the frontage of this property. Overland Park, however, which has jurisdiction over half of these roads has refused to endorse this project and has "no position" on the transportation district. In talks
with citizens, Overland Park has indicated that roads in this area are not top priority.
Stipulations Break CARNP And Other Rules
Stipulations on this plan would allow the developers to construct a 210,000 sq ft. shopping center, would allow buildings to exceed the 30 foot maximum requirement,
would allow a high-density residential development. Three other stipulations would allow developers to break CARNP (County Arterial Road Network Plan) requirements
which dictate where roadways and intersections could be placed.
Many of the citizens speaking today pointed out that this plan was a complete violation of the master plan--the only plan that citizens have to rely on. The planning agencies qualified to study the facts and details of this proposal have already done so--and recommended that this project be denied. Citizens asked why there was a planning process and the resulting master plan if it could be so easily manipulated by developers.
Overland Park Annexation Could Make It Even Worse
Other speakers restated earlier concerns--developers can indeed get county zoning then say good bye to the county and annex to Overland Park. Calls to Overland Park Planning after the hearing, confirmed that this could happen. Johnson County COULD NOT prevent an annexation from happening.
Furthermore, if the county places stipulations on this property these could disappear if the developers (or if they sell the property, the new owners) decide to annex to Overland Park and then seek Overland Park rezoning. Basically, they could then start out with a new development plan--only the zoning and the square footage (210,000) would count.
Denial Is The Right Solution, Commissioner Wolf Holds Swing Vote
If the county refuses this project and denies the commercial zoning on this property, the developer would be forced to come up with a better plan--as Overland Park has already stated twice that it would not support this current plan. However, Overland Park's hands would be tied if this property were annexed with county zoning in place - they would be forced to recognize the county zoning and square footage of this plan.
It appears that Commissioner Susie Wolf is the key vote to decide yes or no on this project. Wood, Anderson, and Gross generally support the project while Surbaugh
has strongly opposed this project. Citizens throughout Johnson County have spoken against this project as it appears a gross violation of the planning process and the master plan.
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