Archive for Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Senior housing development plans denied

February 28, 2007

Senior citizens will have to wait for any new senior housing facilities in Basehor.

The Basehor City Council last Thursday evening sided with the Basehor Planning Commission when it voted to deny a change of zoning from CP-2, general business to PR, planned residential, and the preliminary development plan for Sunset Ridge Independent Living, a senior housing development.

The council voted 2-2 on the rezoning, with council members Terry Thomas and Keith Sifford opposed. Mayor Chris Garcia did not step in to break the tie vote since a two-thirds majority vote of the entire council was needed to override the Planning Commission's recommendation for denial. Council president John Bonee was not present.

"The Planning Commission recommended denial of the change of zoning and the preliminary plan based on some concerns of development density," Basehor planning director Dustin Smith told council members.

The 48-unit, two-story apartment building, presented by Breuer Properties LLC, was planned for the 1200 block of 155th Street, just north of Basehor Town Square and west of Little Angels Learning Center. The project was to be financed with Section 42 tax credits and was specifically designed for people 55 and older. It was set on 2.76 acres and property was removed to accommodate the right of way for Wolf Creek Parkway, which would have been extended west from 155th Street, leaving 1.95 acres of developable property.

The plans called for building 24.6 units per acre, and Smith said the existing rules for multi-family zoning allow a maximum of 12 units per acre for apartments. However, Smith also said the city has the authority to allow a higher density if the developer meets certain conditions.

"If they provide features within the design it can allow them to increase their density," said Smith, who recommended approval of the plan. "That's the whole point of a planned residential district."

A list of design features offered in the plan was given in a narrative sheet to council members and included a flower and vegetable garden, a plant bed and plaza entry into the building, decorative lighting around the inside perimeter of the parking lot and substantial landscaping around the site.

A chart comparing different densities of nearby senior housing facilities was also presented, showing that such places as Hickory Villa in Basehor has 16 housing units and a density of 13.45 units per acre. Shawnee Plaza in Leavenworth, which is comparable in size to the proposed plan with 44 units, has a density of 70.97 units per acre.

"The density comes down to this: We need the density to build the road," developer Kelley Hrabe said, referring to the extension of Wolf Creek Parkway to the west. "At 12 units per acre, the project becomes too expensive. We're not asking for any unnecessary abatements and we plan on building this road, which we think will kick off development to the west."

Another concern with the plan was parking. It allotted 51 parking spaces for the 48 housing units, making the parking ratio of a little bit more than one parking space per unit.

"It doesn't leave a lot of room for visitors," council member Thomas said.

The Planning Commission provided a list of conditions recommended if the council decided to approve the plan. One requested that the developer show future parking could be provided if necessary.

Dave Greer, architect for the project pointed out that the area originally planned for a garden could be used for future parking if necessary.

Smith also provided parking ratios for nearby senior housing facilities that ranged from .36 to 1.14 parking spaces per housing unit.

"For senior living the parking is .3 to .5 cars per living unit," Greer said. "We are providing a little bit more than one per living unit. We can get additional parking."

The "L" shaped floor plan featured elevators and laundry facilities at the intersection of the "L."

Hrabe also pointed out that while the complex was for people 55 and older, the average age would most likely be 72. Council member Iris Dysart, who is also the onsite manager at Hickory Villa, said that she didn't think the more elderly ladies would want to make the trek to the laundry facilities.

"I think it's not really friendly to people 72 and older," she said.

However, Greer said the first units sold in a nearby assisted living facility were the furthest from the elevators.

"The families promoted that because it gave automatic exercise," he said.

Doug Veith, a consultant for the project, said a market study showed a need for such a project in the Basehor area. It also would attract families and economic growth to the area, he said.

"The wealth of those needing senior housing are greater than the housing available," Veith said. "Every community around here where senior housing has been done, there is a waiting list after it is completed. Sunset Ridge provides economic growth to the city. They'll walk right across the street to that grocery store and shop there."

While Dennis Breuer of Breuer Properties said his firm could possibly purchase land to the north of the proposed plan to help address the density issue, he could not sway the council.

"I just see traffic pileup," Dysart said. "I see tenants coming home and not having a place to park."

The council also voted, 3-1, with Sifford opposed to deny renewal of the appointment of city attorney John Thompson, who has served the city for more than 20 years.

Council members Bill Hooker, Dysart and Thomas would not disclose a reason for their votes. However, council member Sifford did voice his concern at the meeting and Garcia said he agreed with him.

"I am deeply disappointed and troubled by the council's decision to not renew the appointment of city attorney John Thompson," Sifford said. "I'd just like to thank John Thompson for his years of loyalty and his work for the city. It's going to take months and years for the city to rebound from the decisions made here tonight."

In other action Monday night, the council:

  • Approved, 4-0, the selection of Burns and McDonnell as the engineering firm to design the expansion of the wastewater treatment facility.
  • Approved, 4-0, to authorize staff to advertise for bid for improvements to 147th Street and Parallel Street.
  • Approved, 3-2, with Hooker and Dysart opposed and the mayor breaking the tie, an ordinance setting Wolf Creek Junction economic development incentives.
  • Approved, 3-1, with Hooker opposed, an ordinance authorizing the execution of a Development Agreement between the city and Benchmark Management Inc., providing certain incentives.
  • Tabled, 4-0, the preliminary plat for the Bryan Plat, a subdivision, and Daniel's Property re-plat.
  • Approved, 3-1, with Thomas opposed, an ordinance annexing Cedar Lakes Phase V.
  • Approved, 4-0, the final plat and subdivision improvements agreement for Cedar Lakes Phase V. Thomas noted the reason he opposed the previous item and approved this item was because he is in favor of the plat, but does not agree with "leap frog" annexation.
  • Tabled, 4-0, amendments to the adopted Future Land Use Map and Major Street Plan until the March 19 meeting.
  • Tabled, 3-1, with Sifford opposed, amendments to the adopted Comprehensive Plan relating to the Streets/Transportation element until the March 19 meeting.
  • Approved, 4-0, fees for planning related applications and Planning Department fee policy.
  • Approved, 4-0, the submitting a request for improvement of 155th Street under the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Surface Transportation Program.
  • Approved, 3-1, with Hooker opposed, to set the hourly pay of $10 for full-time police clerk position.

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