Archive for Thursday, June 9, 2005

De Soto pulls out of K-10 planning agreement with county

June 9, 2005

The De Soto City Council has decided to end a five-year-old agreement with Johnson County that provided for joint planning and regulation of development along the Kansas Highway 10 corridor.

The decision was made in a 3-1 vote last Thursday. Councilwoman Mitra Templin was absent. In April, the Council directed staff to send a letter to the Johnson County Commission stating it was the Council's desire to withdraw from the overlay district if it wasn't extended to include Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

The city received a letter in response from chief county legal counsel Don Jarrett, stating extending the agreement into Sunflower would cause conflicts with a planned redevelopment district.

Mayor Dave Anderson said he spoke twice to Johnson County Commission Chairwoman Annabeth Surbaugh in recent weeks. On both occasions, he told her the majority of the Council wouldn't support extending the agreement if Sunflower was not included. Anderson, who has attempted to move beyond past differences with Surbaugh over Sunflower issues, was assured there would be no hard feelings on the part of county commissioners because of the action.

City staff would still seek comment from the county planning department on land use, zoning and development proposals, Anderson said. But with the agreement dead, the county's suggestions would be just that, and the city was free to reject the county's suggestions with no consequences, he said.

Anderson had a hand in writing the overlay district's rules and regulations when he was chairman of the De Soto Planning Commission before becoming mayor in 2001. He told the Council last Thursday that he, too, didn't like the concept when it was first ordered but was satisfied with the final results.

"It's disappointing to me," he said. "They have chosen not to be our partners."

Anderson said the county was giving up any voice in what the city chooses to do with the gateway to Sunflower along Lexington Avenue and 95th Street.

The overlay district was a condition of the County Commission's 1999 approval of the city's large annexation and was a model the county commissioners hoped could be duplicated in other cities growing into unincorporated parts of the county.

Those living in the unincorporated areas opposing the annexation said at the time the condition made them more comfortable with becoming part of the city.

Still, the overlay district was unpopular with many past and present Council members, who viewed it as a patronizing interference into city affairs. At the meeting, Councilman Tim Maniez welcomed the end of "big brother" looking over the city's shoulder.

Councilwoman Linda Zindler cast the lone dissenting vote. She and other residents south of K-10 welcomed the added protection the overlay district provided against City Hall wheeling and dealing when it was adopted and the development standards it established, she said.

It was agreed that part of the overlay agreement that established development rules and regulations should be preserved, while those sections creating procedures for joint review and conflict resolution would be deleted.

There was very little development in the overlay district for much of its history, but in the last year the county has reviewed a special use permit for Zimmerman's Kill Creek Farm and Olathe Medical Center's request to rezone 40 acres south of 91st Street. The city, in turn, reviewed the proposed conditional use permit for Sunflower Quarry, which gave the city a future voice in where a new access road would be placed and when a permit would be renewed. With the demise of the overlay district, the city will no longer have that right.

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