Decision by commissioners leaves both sides unhappy
Amid statements like "We don't want to be Johnson County," and "We don't want to be part of Bonner Springs," members of the Leavenworth County Planning Commission had to weigh a proposal for a new housing subdivision in the southern part of the county Nov. 15 at Basehor-Linwood High School.
After over two hours of debate, the board finally voted 5-4 to approve an amended request which seemed to leave everyone upset.
Over 150 residents crowded into the "old band room" where the commission was to vote on three development plans. But the first proposal, an 80-acre tract at 158th and Metro Ave., was the object of most of the discussion. The plan, first submitted to the commission last month, was presentedby Albert Hoelting, the owner and proposed developer of the land. His proposal had been redrawn to address complaints the previous month. Among the changes he proposed were dropping the addition from 190 homes down to about 160, and increasing lot sizes on the 158th Street side to conform more to existing houses.
Despite positive remarks by John Zoellner, the county planning and zoning director, when discussion was opened, residents of the area unloaded a variety of complaints to the commission.
Mary Gumm addressed her remarks at Hoelting.
"He said he lived in Johnson County for 40 years he should have stayed there," she said. "We are all neighbors around here, this is a decent place to raise our kids. Bring in people from the outside and you get their problems.
"We don't want to be Johnson County and we don't want Johnson County's problems. All he wants is the money. This is our community, our neighborhood and our family."
Douglas Smith aimed his concerns at annexation.
"Does this open us up to acquisition by Bonner Springs? It is wrong," he said.
Merle Schneck added Bonner Springs could move into the area if the development occurs.
"Bonner Springs is interested in annexing this area. For them to provide sewer service they will want to annex us and then make this a benefit district," Schneck said.
Kurt Leppka added another concern.
"Only in passing have we talked about schools. Adding this many houses will likely add another 300-400 students, we are going to need a new school. We had to work five years to get the last bond issue passed and I am not sure we would get another school at this time," he said.
Most of the people in attendance raised their hands when Hugh McGough asked how many people were worried that the new development did not require 2 1/2 acre lots for homes.
"That is the plan we think is acceptable. They are not on sewers, they are on lagoon systems. This is spot zoning folks."
Both Zoellner and Hoelting attempted to address the lot concerns.
"If you were hooked into a sewer, 2 1/2 acres was never a requirement, there is only a requirement for 15,000 square feet if they are on a sewer," Zoellner said. "Even if you deny this plan Bonner Springs could annex this land and the county would have no control over it."
Although changes were made in the request to accommodate the development's neighbors, many commented they would be on hand Nov. 30 at the county commission meeting to argue against the plan. The county commission is expected to discuss the plan at 10 a.m.