Two groups of residents left the Overland Park City Council meeting defeated Monday night.
By JENNIFER BHARGAVA
Special to The Star
Several residents stayed at the meeting until late Monday night trying to convince the council to reject rezoning for a new development planned for the southeast corner of 151st Street and Switzer Road. A developer requested rezoning from RP-OE, Planned Open Space Estate Residential District, to RP-1, Planned Single-Family Residential District, to allow for a single-family development.
The opposing residents lost their fight. The council approved the rezoning, with only councilmen Richard Collins and John Thompson dissenting.
The development will include 71 lots on the 46.77 acres for a density of 1.52 homes per acre. This is 21 more lots than what was previously approved for the site in 2007. There also will be open space with a bike trail.
Each home will sell for $650,000 or higher, said Pete Heaven, the representative for the developer.
Upset residents, however, said the lower-density subdivision wouldn’t transition well to the surrounding neighborhoods and that the buffers from the new division to each existing neighborhood were too slight. They also said having too many lots in that area would increase traffic and create safety concerns.
The Planning Commission voiced the same concerns last month when it rejected the rezoning.
Some residents living adjacent to the area, such as Todd Boerner, supported w development on the site but said the area didn’t need to be rezoned to do so. They want the area to remain RP-OE.
“I know that legally this is going to be a different neighborhood, but it will share the same amenities as me,” Boerner told the council during the public hearing. “So I feel like you guys are considering whether you should rezone my neighborhood. I need my rights protected as a citizen and I want to be able to rely on the zoning put in place when I bought my home.”
The majority of the council, however, disagreed with the residents, including Dan Stock, the councilman who represents the area.
“I know it’s kind of political suicide for a council member to oppose residents in his ward, but I want to stay independent, keep an open mind, and make the best decision possible,” he told the audience. “I don’t see this plan as a big showstopper for the community and at the end of the day, my decision is simple — I feel it is an appropriate land use for this location.”
Other council members echoed Stock’s sentiments, adding that the lower density still offered a fluid transition to the adjacent neighborhoods and that traffic and safety would not be affected.
Also Monday, a few residents urged the council to reject the removal of the traffic signal and crosswalk at 97th Street and Antioch Road. But the council approved the action anyway, with two councilmen — David White and Jim Kite — dissenting.
Pedestrian safety and heavy traffic were the residents’ biggest concerns during the public hearing on the issue. The stoplight currently helps pedestrians — primarily children — cross Antioch Road to the Stonegate Pool.
But Overland Park city staff, using recent federal guidelines, determined there wasn’t enough vehicular or pedestrian traffic to justify maintaining the aging traffic signal, especially since there is another light 200 feet south at the Hadley Drive and Antioch intersection.
While most of the council agreed with staff that removing the traffic signal was the best decision for the city, White sided with the residents, saying the city needed to respect its young pool-goers.
“I don’t believe a traffic signal belongs there for traffic, but I would like to see a signalized crosswalk put there instead,” he said. “We don’t need kids playing Frogger at that intersection.”
The traffic signal will soon be replaced with a stop sign.