Leawood couple wants to light up backyard pickleball court at night under revised city code

At its Tuesday meeting, the Leawood Planning Commission considered and approved its first request regarding nighttime use of a resident’s backyard sports court since the city began discussing tightening rules

At its Tuesday meeting, the Leawood Planning Commission considered and approved its first request regarding nighttime use of a resident’s backyard sports court since the city began discussing tightening rules around those types of amenities earlier this month.

Driving the news: The application came from George and Megan Kopp, homeowners who want to be able to turn on overhead lights on their existing private sports court on their property near 83rd Street and Lee Boulevard.

  • The 2,340-square foot outdoor court was initially approved by the city in October of 2020 and already has lights installed.
  • The couple told the commission on Tuesday that the court is used for basketball and pickleball, primarily by their sons.
  • “We have three boys, and really the reason why we are applying for this permit right now is because they play basketball and it’s going to get dark early,” Megan Kopp said.

Bigger picture: The Kopps’ application was the first of its kind to come before the commission since the city began discussing cutting back on the time private sports court lights could be on.

  • Under current city code, residents with private sports courts who obtain a special use permit can have their lights on over their courts until 10 p.m.
  • Given the number of noise complaints related to the nighttime use of private sports courts the city has been receiving, the city is in the process of changing its rules so that lighting must be turned off by 9 p.m.
  • In the Kopps’ case, lights have already been installed over their sports court, but the couple had not been using them as they sought planning commission approval.
  • Theirs would be the first residential application for sports court lighting usage since the new rules came up for discussion.
Leawood sports court
The Leawood Planning Commission approved the addition of lighting to a residential sports court, following potential new city guidelines for courts of this kind. Above, an existing residential sports court with lighting. Image from city documents.

Neighbor concerns: The Kopps have received a previous citation due to neighbor noise complaints regarding their sports court.

  • During the public hearing Tuesday, some neighbors continued to voice concerns that the problem with the court would not be the lights, but the noise that came with them if people were using the court later in the evening.
  • “We have to balance all the neighbor’s needs,” said neighbor Amy Nachtigal, noting nearby residents who have small children and jobs that require getting up early. “That’s all we’re asking you to do, just listen a little bit with everything else that’s going on in our neighborhood.”

The next steps for this backyard sports court

  • The Planning Commission ultimately voted in favor of the Kopps’ application.
  • The motion passed on a 4 -2 vote, with two commissioners dissenting because they preferred extending the permitted lighting hours to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. instead of 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • The approval means the application will head next to the Leawood City Council for final approval.