A recently annexed piece of property in southern Overland Park between U.S. 69 Highway and Metcalf Avenue could become a residential neighborhood with several acres of preserved green space.
The Overland Park Planning Commission on Monday recommended approval of a rezoning application connected to the project proposal, despite strong opposition from neighbors who live in unincorporated Stilwell.
The proposal would shift the property, at 18514 Metcalf Ave., to a Planned Residential Open Space zoning category for a lower-density neighborhood called Walnut Reserve.
A previous rezoning item on that site failed
- Earlier this year, the Overland Park City Council declined to advance a rezoning request for the same property that would have shifted it to single-family residential use.
- That plan, which the planning commission recommended for approval unanimously, envisioned 50 single-family homes packed together more densely.
- Neighbors opposed that proposal, submitting a valid protest petition.
- The city council was split on the proposal, voting 6-6 on a motion to approve in May.
- Some councilmembers were concerned about how the density of that proposal could have been in disharmony with the character of the surrounding area. There were also some worries about tree preservation.
- A subsequent motion to reject the application but allow it to come back sooner than typically permitted for further consideration passed 11-1.
New plan pares down density, adds more open space
- Under the new proposal put forth by a new developer, 39 homes are envisioned for the roughly 37 acre property, putting the density at just shy of one housing unit per acre in the full span of the development.
- The minimum lot size is also half an acre now.
- In addition, more than 30% of the planned subdivision will be open space, which is required in this proposed residential zoning classification.
- Nearly half of the open space will be considered “active,” said Aaron DuBois, a city planner, on Monday.
Neighbors are still opposed to the project
- Several nearby property owners spoke against the project during the planning commission meeting Monday, saying that this pared-back proposal is still too dense and too incompatible with the surrounding area to continue.
- Claire Moser, who lives in Stilwell, said this development is “encroaching” on her community.
- “I ask you, ‘Is the existing unique character being maintained to the greatest extent possible?’ I don’t believe this is the only way that this land could be developed,” she said, citing lines in Overland Park’s comprehensive plan about rural development. “Are you certain this is not premature random conversion?”
- Marsha Lawrence, who owns a property to the south of the proposed development, said the construction of a sanitary sewer in the area in the past has been used as “a weapon” to push through annexation and what she sees as incompatible development now.
- She alluded to the city’s history of annexing the unincorporated community of Stanley in the 1980s, which was met with strong resident resistance at the time.
Planning commission supports Walnut Reserve
- The planning commission voted unanimously to back the revised proposal, citing significant changes to the plan and the scaled-down housing density.
- Vice Chair Kip Straus and Commissioners Rob Krewson, Matt Masilionis, Thomas Robinett and Kim Sorensen all called the development appropriate and celebrated the lowered density presented, as well as the extra green space.
- “I think this is a well planned and orderly development,” said Commissioner Edward Reitzes.
- Chair Holly Streeter-Schaefer also spoke in support of the project, admitting that the circumstances are a bit “unique” but saying that “the developer has probably done the best they can with a piece of property that they have.”
What comes next?
- The rezoning proposal goes to the Overland Park City Council next and is currently scheduled to be taken up during the Dec. 4 meeting.
- Moser, in an email to the Post, said neighbors intend to submit a protest petition for this iteration of the development, too, which means the project would need support from a supermajority of the city council to go forward.
- Neighboring property owners have a 14-day window to file the petition after the planning commission vote.