Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2006

Oak Country addition gets council date

September 7, 2006

In its second attempt, the De Soto Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of a 24-home addition to the Oak County Estates subdivision.

The recommendation for approval came at a special meeting last Thursday of the planning commission, which was scheduled after it was learned a 3-1 vote in favor of what is known as Oak Country Estates Eight the week before was not sufficient to recommend the De Soto City Council approve the final plat. The application is from a development team that includes De Soto Mayor Dave Anderson and would complete the Oak Country subdivision.

With the decision, the De Soto City Council will consider the final plat Sept. 21.

City Attorney Patrick Reavey explained the planning commission's bylaws required at least four votes to approve rezoning or plats.

At the request of Planning Commission Chairman Kevin Honomichl, Reavey explained why the application couldn't go to the De Soto City Council next week with the technical "no action" of the week before.

It was the job of the planning commission to either recommend approval or denial of the final plat, Reavey said. Should the planning commission recommend denial, it was required to list items found objectionable so the developer could address them. With the 3-1 vote for approval (which was thought to be sufficient at the time) no such items were put into the record, the city attorney said.

Reavey also explained the planning commission's role in a final plat was the administrative one of determining whether the final plant was in substantial compliance with the previously approved preliminary plat.

The planning commission did add a condition to the final plat requiring the developers or future residents of the addition agree not to oppose a benefit district to improve 91st Street in Oak Country.

Although the meeting didn't include a public hearing, about 15 Oak Country Estates residents filled the council room. Given a chance to name a spokesman, the residents chose Mel Fischer.

Fischer said he didn't have the facts to comment on the decision before the planning commission -- the final plat's compliance with the preliminary plat. He addressed two points made at the earlier meeting, starting with residents' view that 91st Street in Oak Country wouldn't accommodate the estimated 240 added cars per day the addition would put on the street.

"Ninety-first Street is a bad street," he said. "If we approve this subdivision, it will make a bad condition worse."

The brush removal and additional signage that will be required of the developer is not going to have a meaningful effect on the road's safety, Fischer said. Placing the proposal on hold until the street was improved was best for the community because it would not increase the street's danger, he said.

Fischer also spoke out against the planned use of Oak Valley Lane and 91st Terrace to access the addition, preferring access be gained by an extension of Scott Drive on ground set aside for that use. The use of Oak Valley Lane would invite hazards from heavy construction traffic, lengthen response time of emergency vehicles to the new addition and make 91st Street more dangerous than the Scott Drive alternative, he said.

"That intersection has to be impacted (91st and Oak Valley Lane)," Fischer said. "It occurs just 50 feet from the tremendous curve."

Finally, Fischer said he had been asked by a resident to seek clarification on the details of a possible benefit district to improve 91st Street. Residents of Oak Country recently paid off assessments against their property to build the subdivision's roads and didn't favor future assessments to make further upgrades, he said.

Should the city choose to use that tool, an assessment could be made against all those shown to benefit from the improvements, including the city at large, Reavey said. That was different from past benefit district assessments, which were done by a road frontage basis, he said.

That made the lots in the new addition subject to a benefit district, Reavey said. It also made the developer's agreement to participate significant because benefit districts need the support of 51 property owners subject to them, Reavey said.

The recommendation for approval became official when Commissioner Michael Kroeger joined the three "yes" votes from the week earlier (John Krudwig, Bob Friday and Honomichl), easily overcoming another "no" vote from Richard Hemphill. Two planning commissioners, Richard Moberly and Roger Templin were absent.

The city council will have the task of approving the plat and accepting the easements and rights of way it gives the city. Among its options would be to find the access easement inadequate, sending the proposal back to the planning commission.

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