County planners approve disputed development
Very little was actually determined when the Leavenworth County Planning Commission voted to approve a controversial housing development Nov. 15 at Basehor-Linwood High School.
Following a lengthy public discussion that included impassioned pleas from area residents, the commission gave developer Albert Hoelting approval for his development, but the terms were so restrictive it is questionable whether or not he would proceed with such a plan.
After meeting with county commissioners on Nov. 30, the developers could again be in front of the planning commission next month.
The commission voted 5-4 to approve the development, but only with specific changes, primarily an increase in the minimum size of lots, which developers say could make the project cost prohibitive to pursue.
The commission approved a plan where among other factors: lots facing Metro and 158th Streets would have to be a minimum of 7/8ths of an acre; inside lots would have to be a minimum of 18,000 square feet; the developer would have to pay for street improvements; the developer would have to bear the costs of improvements without the use of tax abatements like TIFs or RIFs; and the developer would be responsible to develop and maintain green space areas. The proposal would also require the developers to pay for roadwork twice, once at the start of the development for the use of construction vehicles and again as lots are sold to repair damage caused by those vehicles.
It was estimated by developers that less than 100 homes could be built under this plan.
Following the vote, Hoelting said he would have to wait and see if such a plan could work. While he had hoped to build homes in the $180,000 price range, he said the specified adjustments could cause the minimum price to soar to $250,000.
Last week's meeting was the second appearance for Hoelting before the commission and it was the second time a large and vocal crowd had appeared in opposition.
Originally, Hoelting requested the area be rezoned from Rural Residential, requiring 2.5-acre tracts, to a Planned Unit Development District. The plan had called for about 190 homes on the 80-acre site located near 158th and Metro Avenue in southern Leavenworth County. During early meetings with the planning commission and county commission, numerous concerns were voiced to Hoelting and he said during his presentation last week that he had attempted to incorporate remedies into his new plan.
The reworked proposal was downsized to 160 homes, lots of 7/8ths of an acre on homes adjacent to current developments, and other alterations.
Hoelting told the commission, "I think we've done a good job of accommodating the current landowners. I guarantee this will be a benchmark you will rate all subdivisions in the county by for years to come."
Hoelting said the plan would also provide a strong tax base for the area.
"Currently the land is producing $450 per year in tax revenue. Once it is developed it will generate about $400,000 per year," he said.
Leavenworth Planning and Zoning Director John Zoellner told commissioners the development would be hooked to a county sewer system to start and could later be hooked into another system, possibly that of Bonner Springs. Because of the sewer accessibility, Zoellner said the plan fit into county zoning and did not require 2 1/2 acre lots like previous homes without sewer access.
But a parade of residents addressed the commission, voicing a number of concerns including traffic, annexation and school crowding. Following the vote, many of those residents were also disappointed with the outcome.
With the commission's recommendation, the plan will now go to the three-member Leavenworth County Commission at 10 a.m., Nov. 30. Commissioners can approve, decline or amend the request or send it back to the planning commission for further discussion.
Hoelting said he would attend the meeting, but was currently uncertain what he would tell the commission.
Following the vote, the commission looked at another proposed development at 153rd Street and Bradford Court. The request was to rezone the area from rural residential, 2.5-acre tracts, to R-1, a family dwelling district with a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet. Best Development, Inc submitted the development request.
Several people addressed the board with questions, but there was little organized opposition and the plan passed 7-2.
Although Hoelting had already left the meeting, there were some who questioned why one development passed and the other failed. It was explained that the two major differences were the use of a planned unit development district as opposed to a zoning change to R-1; and the fact that the Best Development is actually just an extension of a current subdivision.
A third development located at 17211 State Avenue, owned by James Slough ,was never discussed. Zoellner said the meeting had to be closed by 11 p.m. because of the school policy. It was not indicated when or if the third request would be discussed.