Tie vote sends Arbor Ridge to overtime
Tuesday's rematch between the developers of the proposed 181-home, 58-duplex Arbor Ridge subdivision and its neighbors produced a draw before the De Soto Planning Commission, assuring an overtime decision sometime in the coming months.
After three hours of presentations by developers and neighbors, a motion to recommend the De Soto City Council deny rezoning 56 acres of the 90-acre tract southeast of the 83rd Street/Kill Creek Road intersection produced a 2-2 vote. After a 10-minute executive session to discuss the legal implications of the draw, the Planning Commission voted 3-1 to table the item until more members were present.
That decision made moot two other Arbor Ridge agenda items -- another rezoning request that would allow the construction of duplexes on 16.4 acres and the subdivision's preliminary plat. Those items were also tabled.
In May, the Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of a request by the same team of developers led by Jim Lambie and Tim Zarda to rezone the property from R-1 single-family residential to R-2, which allows mixed single-home/multi-family development. Although the developers said they planned to build only the 61 duplexes depicted on a preliminary plat, planning commissioners agreed the rezoning would allow duplexes on the tract's entire 90 acres.
Since that time, the city amended its zoning codes to add a new R-1A classification, which allows smaller residential lot sizes than the traditional R-1.
As they had in May, City Engineer Mike Brungardt and Planning Consultant Sean Ackerson submitted reports finding the estimated 1,067 people living in a fully built-out Arbor Ridge wouldn't overwhelm the capacity of the city's sewer and water utilities. Similarly, Brungardt reported a traffic study indicated 83rd Street could safely handle a projected 3,380 added trips each day from the development with the improvements that would be required of the developer.
Those findings were challenged by the neighbors, especially the four-person tag team of Maria Caldwell, Diane Lavenburg, Stacy Zarr and Mike Sedars.
Sedars questioned the reliability of a traffic count that counted traffic in July. That wouldn't account for school traffic, he said. Brungardt acknowledged Sedars' point but said it didn't change the conclusion of his report that 83rd Street would remain safe with the addition of such improvements as turn lanes at the two 83rd Street entrances to Arbor Ridge, radius adjustments to the Kill Creek/83rd Street intersection, and a traffic light at that intersection in the future.
The proposed development on just 1.1 percent of De Soto total land area would increase the city's population by percent 17.95 percent, Zarr said.
"That shows a significant impact for the city of De Soto," she said. "There will be impacts on the demand for city services."
Speaking for the developer, attorney Chase Simmons said planning commissioners should consider the property's current R-1 zoning -- which Brungardt and Ackerson said could support 212 single-family homes -- and not the large-lot development to the south and east when making its decision.
"This property is zoned R-1 and is serviceable by sewers," he said. "It is not going to be broken up for large lot development. That is something we can take as a fact. It would defy the typical development patterns in Johnson County where zoning and sewers are available."
There were aggressive Johnson County developers who would build out the tract to maximum allowable R-1 lots without leaving the green space the Lambie team was envisioning, Simmons said.
Citing the staff reports, Simmons noted R-1 development at the site would have the same consequences to city services as the proposed Arbor Ridge development.
Despite the large-lot homes to the east and south, the neighborhood was one of mixed uses, Simmons said, offering the evidence of the 36-unit Valley Springs development.
"Multi-family is at the front door of the development," he said. "That's a fact of life out there."
Economic and planning factors made the developer's proposal right for the site, Simmons said. He further bolstered this argument by citing the draft of the city's comprehensive plan that the Planning Commission was to consider later in the meeting. Large lot development wouldn't pay for itself by providing the city revenue from such sources as water and sewer system development fees, excise tax and property taxes, he said.
Not surprisingly, some neighbors chose to focus on preserving the character of the neighborhood. Arbor Ridge's proposed lot sizes would be less 3/10ths of an acre, Zarr said. That compared to current average lot size of more than two acres in the Kill Creek/Corliss Road corridor between 83rd Street and Kansas Highway 10, she said. In addition, she said all the current homes were custom built on septic systems.
Sean Anderson said he moved to his home on 89th Street one year ago because of its semi-rural nature that allowed "deer in the backyard." He questioned how more noise and traffic would increase the property value of his home as city staff and Simmons maintained.
The pro-and-con arguments proved equally persuasive to the Planning Commission. Gary Pannell's motion to recommend denial was supported by Randy Canaan, but was opposed by Richard Moberly and Planning Commission Chairman Kevin Honomichl.
After the executive session, it was agreed to table the Arbor Ridge request until more members were present. That could prove problematic because Commissioner Roger Templin recused himself from the May vote on Arbor Ridge because or his law firm's involvement with the developer. The Planning Commission also has one vacant seat.