Prairie Village officials want to take a breather before reconsidering developments that they have denied.
By JONATHAN BENDER
Special to The Star
The night before the Prairie Village Planning Commission was set to hold its first public hearing on revised site plans for Mission Chateau, the City Council agreed with a voice vote to begin the process to look into a potential waiting period for successive rezoning and special use permit applications on the same property.
“This doesn’t affect current applications,” said Councilwoman Laura Wassmer. “This is for future projects and future councils. I think there’s going to be many more down the road. This is not about what’s changing in the past. This is about being insightful about what’s in the future.”
While it may not affect the special use permit application filed by developer Joe Tutera on Oct. 4 concerning the senior living community — in fact, the words “Tutera,” and “Mission Chateau,” were never uttered during the 30-minute discussion — the impetus for the waiting period discussion was clear. City planning consultant Ron Williamson explained that large projects can be all-consuming and city staff might need a breather between submissions on large-scale developments.
“It takes an enormous amount of staff time,” Williamson said. “It’s a lot of effort on everybody’s part and some of the things get put on the back burner. We need to regroup and deal with other issues.”
Mission Chateau, the proposed senior living community on the site of the former Mission Valley Middle School has been a controversial project. The Tutera Group, through a development entity known as MVS LLC, filed a second site plan a month after its initial special use permit application was denied. The City Council voted 7-6 in September to approve the application, but a super majority of 10 votes was required for it to pass because of a successful protest petition filed by the adjacent property owners. Tutera is suing the city, challenging the validity of the protest petition.
The Planning Commission was to conduct a public hearing on Tutera’s revised plans Tuesday night, after 913’s press time.
Several council members expressed concern that a waiting period of six months to a year was merely an obstacle to development.
“I think the timing is terrible. I think we set up the moratorium just to get in someone’s way,” said Councilwoman Ruth Hopkins, who voted against sending the matter on to the Planning Commission. “I think it’s a good idea, but I think we should wait.”
“The developer is jumping through hoops that we put before them,” said Councilman Andrew Wang, who also was against the new process. A reapplication period “is just another somewhat unreasonable hurdle to put before somebody.”
The recommendation that the Planning Commission consider the idea of a waiting period passed by a majority vote. Williamson will now send a memo to the Planning Commission asking them to consider whether the city should have a waiting period. The Planning Commission could then hold a public hearing on the topic in January with the matter returning to the council as soon as Jan. 20.
“It’s not saying no. It’s not saying yes. It’s something we need to look at. We’re limited on city staff,” said Councilman Ted Odell.
The Prairie Village City Council also voted Monday night to approve a $10,000 loan to cover 2013 JazzFest expenditures. This year’s festival took in $64,414, but it cost $72,139 to put on. Organizer Jack Shearer blamed the loss on the cost of hiring a pair of headliners, hot weather suppressing demand for beer and a less than expected return of $20,000 on a $10,584 contract with fundraiser Pelofsky & Associates, Inc.
“The biggest killer is raising funds. There’s not a lot of people that can raise funds in Prairie Village,” Shearer said.
The loan from the general contingency fund was originally approved in January.
“I think we chalk this up to paying for PR,” added Councilwoman Brooke Morehead, who is on the Jazzfest Committee. “So we’re a little short this year. We’ll pay you back with interest next year. Maybe.”
The Jazzfest Committee will use $7,725 to pay the outstanding bills with the additional $2,275 being applied toward the 2014 festival.
The council approved the loan with only Councilman Wang dissenting.
“The good name of Prairie Village is riding on this bill getting paid,” Wang said. But “$10,000 is more than we owe.”