Northeast Joco

Protest petition puts another roadblock in front of Mission Chateau project

Updated: 2013-08-20T22:12:14Z

By JONATHAN BENDER

Special to The Star

Mission Chateau, the proposed senior living community on the former Mission Valley Middle School site, will now have to be approved by a super-majority of the Prairie Village City Council at its meeting planned for Sept. 3.

The property owners within 200 feet of the site at 8500 Mission Road filed a valid protest petition, which bumps up the requirement from a simple majority, last week. The city staff confirmed the signatures and addresses and announced the petition at Monday’s council meeting.

The Tutera Group is proposing to build a 358,040-square-foot project over three phrases and three years. The senior living community would have a skilled nursing and memory care center, independent and assisted living facilities and a series of villas. It would be 327 units on the 18.4-acre site that previously held the middle school.

This marks the first time a protest petition has been submitted over a special-use permit application. The council approved an amendment to the city ordinance in January, allowing for residents adjacent to a project seeking a special-use permit to file a petition requiring three-fourths majority rather than a simple majority council vote.

“I think it’s obvious that the neighbors feel strongly that this petition should have never been recommended by the Planning Commission,” said attorney John Duggan, a representative of the Mission Valley Neighbors Association, the nonprofit organization that has been a staunch opponent of the project.

Representatives for the Tutera Group said they were proud of their proposal.

“We are excited about the potential opportunity to bring a premier senior living community to Prairie Village — and we’re focused on meeting the needs of senior citizens in the area,” Joe Tutera said. We continue to be open to dialogue to discuss ways in which Mission Chateau can be a great neighbor and vibrant member of the broader community. We are confident the council will consider our proposal on the merits of the evidence we presented.”

A protest petition is considered valid if 20 percent of the property owners within 200 feet — excluding public right of ways and the project site — oppose a given special-use application. That percentage is determined by land area, meaning that a property owner with only a small sliver of land within the 200 feet radius will have a correspondingly small percentage of the total vote.

There are 54 properties within 200 feet of Mission Chateau, not counting the apartment building at 8361 Somerset Drive (no condo owners signed the petition). The city spent last week validating the 21 signatures on the protest petition and deemed 20 of those submitted to be legitimate. A single entry, on a piece of property owned by a trust, was dismissed.

“The level of participation in the petition shows there is widespread opposition to the plan,” wrote Whitney Kerr Jr., president of the Mission Valley Neighbors Association, in an e-mail. “It’s incompatible with the surrounding owner-occupied, single-family homes.”

On Aug. 6, the Planning Commission voted 5-1 to recommend that the City Council approve the senior living community. The vote followed a series of three highly charged meetings where neighbors expressed concerns over parking, property values and the size of the project.

“That public hearing is done,” said City Administrator Quinn Bennion. “That’s the evidence that the council should be using to base their decision on whether to approve or deny the special-use permit.”

The Mission Chateau development will now need to be approved by 10 of the 13 voting members, the council plus Mayor Ron Shaffer. If a city councilperson is not in attendance at the Sept. 3 meeting, that would count as a vote against the project.

“I have inquired of all of the council members and all have indicated that they plan on attending the meeting on September 3,” said Bennion.

They won’t be the only ones. Duggan stated the neighbors intend to have their voices heard at the meeting next month.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that at least four people on the City Council will understand the concerns the neighbors have and send it back to the Planning Commission so the developer can downsize this proposal,” said Duggan.

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