Archive for Thursday, April 6, 2006

History, geography make west side best growth option

April 6, 2006

A look at a map of De Soto and northwest Johnson County makes it obvious why De Soto has started future land-use planning to the west and southwest.

The Kansas River and floodplain eliminates any expansion to the north, the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant represents a 9-square-mile no-trespassing zone to the south, and well-established patterns of large-lot development erects a barrier of resident resistance to the west.

Although the city hasn't given up on opportunities along the Kill Creek Road corridor, the only areas of substantial growth potential are those to the west and southwest now being studied.

Although it is difficult to understand how those with property west of the Sunflower panhandle and south of a busy Kansas Highway 10 could be surprised the character of their rural neighborhood is about to change, the city's interest to areas west of Edgerton Road may have come as a surprise to many property owners. But attentive residents to the west might have anticipated development pressure was coming sooner than later.

The resistance to the Arbor Ridge subdivision from those living in established large-lot homes to the east, the three-year-old update of the city's comprehensive plan, Johnson County Parks and Recreation of what would have been prime residential development property and the location of the new wastewater plant worked to increase the residential growth potential of the west.

In some ways, the city is following the path of least resistance by focusing to the west. There are fewer homeowners and property owners to overcome and developers and speculators have already put together large parcels of property.

Their number, or relative lack of numbers, makes it unlikely the present character of the area will be preserved even if that were the vision of all property owners in the study area.

Their collected voices can reinforce the city's commitment to its policies of protecting vistas along and requiring high quality development along the K-10 corridor.

Those policies are important if anything unique is to be accomplished in the study area of three, and perhaps some day four, K-10 interchanges in an age that every freeway exit is a concrete mass of convenience stores, fast-food restaurants and other cookie-cutter development.

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