Council questions amount of zoning variances used
Twenty-four new homes might soon be coming to the 800 block of Ida Street after the City Council adopted a contentious rezoning ordinance Thursday, Nov. 8.
The Council approved a preliminary development plan for the 24 single-family homes of Angel Falls Villas subdivision and rezoned the property there from R-1, suburban residential, to a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, district.
Essentially, a PUD district is a tool designed to group compatible land uses as a complete neighborhood unit within one development or subdivision.
The thing that struck several Council members, Thursday, was the amount of variances that were granted for the 8.34-acre development.
Typically, the minimum acreage required for a PUD is 10 acres. Other variances for the subdivision dealt with setback requirements, minimum areas for lots and minimum road frontage requirements.
Council member Andi Pawlowski, who expressed her dissatisfaction with variances in general, asked, "Why do we even have zoning regulations if we have all these variances?"
Public Works director John Young said, without the variances, "the property probably wouldn't be viable otherwise," because of limited space in the area.
Young also noted that another reason for the variances is that the homeowners in Angel Falls will have to pay to relocate a sanitary sewer interceptor to the west of the development at a cost of around $200,000, which is in excess of or equal to the current valuation of properties in the neighborhood.
Joe McAfee, an engineer for the project, added that the developer, Ida Development LLC, would be spending approximately $80,000 to put in a hiking/biking trail that would be dedicated to Lansing's public trail system.
Another component of the developer's proposal was a request to offset the parkland fees of $7,200 for a portion of the construction of the trail.
Although, by approving the ordinance, the Council did not approve that particular request, the issue was still broached Thursday.
"I think we're starting to misuse the way parkland fees were originally intended," Ward 4 Council member Harland Russell said.
Russell also said city officials need to "take a hard look" at increasing the number of zoning classifications in the city.
"Other communities have large numbers," Russell said. ": Something like this (ordinance) could fit into that without having to request a bunch of variances."
Ultimately, despite some concerns, the ordinance was adopted 4-2, with Dee Hininger and Andi Pawlowski opposed (Council member Janette Holdemann was not present).
In other business:
¢Mayor Ken Bernard proclaimed Monday, Nov. 11, 2007 Veterans' Day to be Veterans of Foreign Wars Day. Accepting the proclamation was Jeff Meid, Commander of VFW Post 12003.
"This is a great honor and is also one more piece of evidence that the city of Lansing is veteran friendly," Meid said.
¢Bernard issued a proclamation in recognition of Children's Book Week, Nov. 12-16. The city's library director Sunshine Petrone accepted the award and urged all citizens to read to their preschool-age children next week.
Petrone also invited everyone to join in Family Night at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, where city administrator Mike Smith will read the book "Do Kangaroos Wear Seat Belts?" by Jane Kurtz to Lansing youths.
¢The Council voted, 6-0, to make Reilly & Sons Inc., of Leavenworth, the commercial insurance broker for the city.
Reilly & Sons will replace incumbent broker, Overland Park-based Fidelity Group Insurance Professionals LLC, in February 2008.
¢The Council voted, 6-0, to adopt an ordinance for the assessment of delinquent unpaid weed abatement bills.
¢City officials met in executive session for 30 minutes to discuss acquisition of real estate and non-elected personnel issues.