Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Revised plans spur protest

Planning Commissino recommends denial of requested changes at Basehor Commons

June 13, 2007

Concerned members of a neighborhood visited Basehor City Hall the night of June 5 to speak against a proposed revised development plan for their subdivision.

While the final development plan for the Honey Creek Farms subdivision at 166th Street and Pinehurst Drive was approved in 2003, a revised plan that included small changes to Lot 1, Block 6 within the subdivision was submitted for Planning Commission approval.

Roger Morningstar, a member of Honey Creek Farms LLC, and builder Donald Dyster presented their plans for what would be called Basehor Commons, a group of 22 single-family slab homes and duplexes for sale and rent. The development is to be built on a vacant tract just inside the subdivision's entrance. The tract is bordered by Sheehan Road on the north, 168th Street to the west, Freeman Street on the south and Pinehurst Drive on the east.

"These are going to be very nice houses," Morningstar said. "We hope it adds a nice piece, not only to this development but to the city of Basehor."

The original plan had only 16 single-family homes and no duplexes. Morningstar said the addition of a few more homes, will allow them to be more affordable. Some other changes, pointed out Dustin Smith by city planning director, were the density and a decrease in setbacks or the distance between homes.

The overall existing density for the entire 71.82-acre subdivision would increase from 1.55 units per acre to 1.64. The density of Basehor Commons would increase from 4.44 units per acre to 6.09 under the new plans.

Setbacks would decrease from 10 feet to 7 feet making space, between homes 14 feet instead of 20 feet. Smith said 7-foot setbacks have been used in other subdivisions in Basehor and spoke to the fire department to make sure there were not any problems with the change.

"I spoke with the fire marshal and he didn't have any concerns about it being 14 feet," Smith said.

City staff recommended approval of the plan with two exceptions: All duplexes must face Sheehan Road, which is where other duplexes in the subdivision are located, and the developer must provide some kind of design amenity to make up for the increase in density from the original plan.

Some homeowners within the subdivision urged commissioners to oppose the revised plan.

Homeowner Stephanie Harris acted as spokesperson for the group. She said they were concerned about rental properties already existing in the subdivision and did not want anymore. Harris also handed commissioners a petition opposing the revised plan signed by all homeowners in the subdivision with the exception of one.

"We think there will be a reduction in property values, increased traffic and increased crime," she said. "We have seen the police stake out the duplexes that are already there. The big thing is crime. We were told by different Realtors that there would be no rentals, which is why a lot of us bought."

Homeowners also said when they purchased their homes, they were told the area was going to be made into a 55-and-older retirement community. While there are no age restrictions on who is allowed to live in Basehor Commons, Morningstar and Dyster said they would like to attract a 55 and older crowd.

Dyster said that while the homes are not approved by the Americans with Disabilities Act as a whole, amenities within the home are ADA approved, including showers and sinks.

"Why would he put in ADA-friendly showers and sinks if we didn't want or prefer 55 or older residents to purchase or rent them?" Morningstar said in a later interview.

Others concerns brought to commissioners by homeowners included the subdivision's covenants, or set of restrictions on all the properties. Honey Creek Farms LLC is in charge of enforcing the covenants until about 75 percent of the lots have been sold. When that happens, a homeowner's association is formed to enforce the covenants. Harris said not only were most of the homeowners unaware of the covenants when they purchased their homes, Honey Creek Farms LLC was not enforcing the covenants.

She showed commissioners photos of violations of the covenants, including lots that had not been mowed.

Commissioner John Flower said homeowners should have seen a document about the covenants when they closed on their homes.

"When you close, you are given a document to sign that says you're aware of the homeowners association," he said.

Residents still denied they ever saw such a document.

Morningstar encouraged residents to contact him if there was a problem concerning the covenants.

"If there's a violation, please call and we'll get it taken care of," he said.

Planning Commission chair, Jason Logsdon reminded Honey Creek Farms residents that the commission makes recommendations based on whether the plans match up with zoning ordinances and the city's comprehensive plan.

"When you tell us you were told there would be no rentals, as a commission, those aren't really the factors we're considering here," he said.

The commission denied approval of the revised plan, 4-1, with Flower in favor. Logsdon had to leave the meeting early and Commissioner David Povilonis was not present. While the residents present at the meeting applauded the decision, Commissioner Ed Bush, who made the motion, said he did not make his decision based on the turnout at the meeting, but on notes he had taken concerning the density. Commissioner John Matthews also reminded the audience that the Planning Commission is strictly a recommending body and the City Council has the right to make its own decision on the matter.

The council will review the issue at Monday night's meeting.

Morningstar said he hopes Monday night's meeting will produce a different outcome.

"We want to get it approved," he said. "It's within all the rules and regulations. We're not asking for anything that hasn't been done numerous times in Basehor."

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