Resident opposition fuels denial of development
Residents say development would be harmful to property values and way of life
Commercial Group of Topeka spokesperson Don Cooper said the land his company proposed for development has long been vacant and is "stagnant from a development standpoint."
And that's exactly how approximately 200 Basehor residents want to keep it when considering Commercial Group's proposal for a four-acre tract at 155th Street and Crestwood Drive.
In a show of overwhelming disapproval, nearby residents crowded into City Hall Monday, Nov. 18 to oppose rezoning of the tract, which would have allowed a low-income housing development.
"We do not want this low-rent housing company in Basehor," said Lester Johnson, spokesperson for the Crestwood subdivision property owners.
"They expect to be heard and we expect you to listen," said Johnson, backed by a chorus of agreement from audience members.
City Council members did listen: re-zoning of the property from commercial to residential was unanimously denied.
Johnson and numerous other residents circulated a petition against the development. More than 200 people signed the petition and handed it to council members Monday night.
Residents signed the petition because they think the development would have a "significant negative impact on our lives, property values and our community," Johnson said.
Opposition to Commercial Group ran deeper than just the petition.
Basehor resident Cindy Harvey took pictures of other Commercial Group developments that showed dilapidated conditions at the buildings.
"And this is supposed to be up-kept ground," Harvey said.
Basehor resident Joe Furjanic cited Commercial Group's failure to notify neighboring property owners of the company's purchase of the land, and of a rezoning hearing at the Basehor Planning Commission meeting in November.
At the November Planning Commission meeting, members unanimously approved rezoning the property.
However, the re-zoning should have been denied at the Planning Commission meeting, City Council member Joe Odle said.
"It should have been voted down there, it shouldn't have even come here," Odle said.
"(The property owners) have already invested that money (into their homes). To change the zoning now would be wrong," he added.
Basehor Mayor Joseph Scherer, who once favored the development, said he changed his decision "because there is over 200 people on this petition and that's 10 percent of our community on this petition."
"I think it's obvious what the people want," City Council member Burl Gratny said.
Commercial Group had proposed low-income multi-family housing units in addition to the low-income senior housing units for the Crestwood area.
City officials had already denied the multi-family housing units, but Commercial Group still hoped to move forward with the senior housing.
City Council member Chris Garcia said there wasn't much difference between the two proposals.
"I see no difference in this at all," he said.