Townhouse plan reception warm
De Soto planning commissioners told an Olathe developer they would consider his proposal to build 10 triplexes east of Valley Springs Homes on 83rd Street.
The Planning Commission non-binding consensus came with the understanding the owner of the property, Sam Crawford of Olathe, would seek the rezoning as part of a planned development, which would allow planning commissioners and the De Soto City Council to review the site plan at the time the property was rezoned.
That discussion came at a meeting where the Planning Commission was to consider rezoning 4.4 acres of property on a commercial tract east from the C-2 general business designation to the city's multi-family residential designation of R-3. City Engineer Mike Brungardt said he encouraged the developer to seek the rezoning late last year when he was first approached about the plan for the townhomes.
Since that time, however, the City Council had adopted an updated comprehensive plan that established a transitional overlay district in the area east of Kill Creek Road. As city planning consultant Sean Ackerson pointed out, that update also recommended all residential rezonings in the transitional overlay district be considered as part of a planned development. He and Brungardt recommended that process for Crawford's request.
The re-application was fine with the developer, but he asked for some indication that it would win the Planning Commission's approval should it be advanced. As a way to improve planning commissioner's comfort level, Crawford gave a 20-minute presentation on his plan.
The development would comprise 10 buildings with three "villas" each, Crawford said. Designs of one-, one-and-a-half and two-story structures would be such that they would nearly indistinguishable from single-family homes. The estimated $150,000 to $180,000 units would be owner-occupied with a homeowner association providing nearly all maintenance, he said.
"We do have a demand for that kind of property in the county," Crawford said. "I suspect we won't be able to build them fast enough or have enough lots."
Should he get all the approvals required, Crawford said he would build one model unit and two townhomes and then build out as those sold. The units would appeal to singles, young families and seniors looking for the convenience of maintained residences, he said.
Crawford said he bought the property from the Arbor Ridge developer, which was represented at the meeting by that project's lead developer, Jim Lambie.
Neighbor Toni Caldwell -- speaking during public hearing conducted despite the developer's willingness to withdraw the rezoning request -- said she was prepared to speak against rezoning the property to R-3, which would allow eight to 12 units per building. Although she still had concerns about water and sewer, Caldwell said a planned development of 30 townhomes of the kind Crawford described would probably be preferable to the tract's build out to commercial uses.
"If we can get planned development, I think we can get more what we want," she said.
Caldwell identified another concern that planning commissioners later expressed: The project would set a precedent for multi-family and residential densities greater than the three units per acre designated for the area in the comprehensive plan update.
"Land use does grow upon land uses," Planning Commissioner Roger Templin said. "I think we would have the issue anyway."
To prove his point, Templin said the Planning Commission approved the Valley Springs apartments as a buffer from the adjacent commercial zoning.
He ironically noted that he and other planning commissioners were now indicating a willingness to consider Crawford's proposal as a buffer transition from Valley Springs. To stay consistent with past actions, the Planning Commission shouldn't approve any additional rezonings of the remaining commercial property, he said.
Lambie said there would be no such requests.
"We don't intend it to be residential," he said. "We paid too much for the property."
Lambie said, however, he still hoped to have a multi-family piece to his Arbor Ridge subdivision. He is appealing the City Council's December rejection of a rezoning on property in Johnson County District Court.
In addition to land use implications, Templin questioned if the plan reserved enough green space, particularly if the units attracted young families with children, which he suspected they would. He and other planning commissioners would want to see that concern addressed in the site plan, he said.
In response to a question from Planning Commissioner Bob Friday, Brungardt said a traffic study could be required with the planned development application.
Crawford indicated he would file a planned development application, with the understanding the Planning Commission could reject it despite Tuesday's discussion.