Overland Park commission denies request for extra height on proposed LUX Senior Living apartment

Concerns over the height of a proposed multi-story senior living apartment complex brought many neighbors from the surrounding area to the Overland Park Planning Commission meeting Monday. With the project rezoned, the complex would be able to build three buildings ranging from five to six stories. But commissioners voted to deny the rezoning request, stating the height was too immense for the space. Above, a digital rendering of the finished apartment complex via Overland Park city documents.

At its meeting Monday, the Overland Park Planning Commission voted to deny rezoning for a new senior living  apartments after neighbors in the area expressed several concerns about the complex.

Proposed to be built at the northwest corner of 137th Street and Quivira Road, LUX Senior Living apartments first brought their rezoning request to the commission last month.

The developers requested the area be rezoned to allow up to six-story buildings, instead of the four stories currently permitted.

The change would have allowed developers to put up three buildings, ranging from five to six stories based upon grading.

Curt Peterson, a lawyer with Polsinelli representing the developers, said the request to change the zoning is necessary in order to incorporate all the amenities the complex planned to have.

“From the inside to the outside to the rents that we would command … this can only be attained under RP-6 [the requested zoning designation],” Peterson said.

Addressing concerns

The change to the height with the addition of one to two stories, however, is what concerned neighbors the most.

At the previous planning commission meeting, neighbors said the new height would create a “castle on the hill” effect, towering over their properties.

In order to try to appease those worries, Peterson presented commissioners with photos and digital renderings of how the complex would look from the perspective of the surrounding homes.

Peterson argued the distance between the complex and the nearby homes, in addition to foliage that would create a sort of buffer, would be enough for the complex’s height to not be seen as overwhelming to neighboring residents.

But many neighbors did not agree with that.

Michael Peck, whose house backs up to 137th Street, argued the renderings presented did not adequately capture the height and immensity of the apartments if they were to go up to six stories.

“It’s like trying to capture a picture on a phone of a magnificent mountain scape, it just doesn’t do it justice,” Peck said. “What I see from my living room is that trees will provide no significant barrier from where our house sits.”

Many neighbors expressed concerns over increased traffic, as well.

At the September meeting, developers presented a traffic study that concluded the new complex would not impede traffic to an unmanageable degree.

Back then, neighbors argued the traffic study was unreliable because it was done based on the apartment falling under the senior living category. And while the complex is said to cater towards seniors, there is no age restriction to move there.

Peterson said the developers conducted a new traffic study, this time under the assumption it would be a multi-family development instead of solely senior living.

He said the new study still concluded the complex would not create significant traffic in the area.

Once again, neighbors disagreed, saying the additional traffic caused by the 236 apartments would cause some type of issue.

“We’re concerned about noise, especially increased traffic noise radiating off the building,” Peck said.

Commissioners decision

Commissioners ultimately voted unanimously to deny the rezoning for the apartment complex.

Several commissioners shared sentiments similar to the concerns raised by the residents, though they also said they were not against the project itself.

“I get why the applicant is proposing it the way he is because I think there are amenities and the way the relationships work that there are buyers or renters that want that sort of thing,” commissioner David Hill said.

However, Hill said, he was not sure this was the right project for this place at this time.

Commissioner Mike Flanagan said he even liked the project for this area but only if it stayed under its current zoning regulation.

“I just have trouble with the height,” Flanagan said.

The Lux Senior Living item could come before the Overland Park City Council at its November 1 meeting.