Some residents of a Kansas City neighborhood looked across the state line and saw something they didn’t want: People buying side-by-side lots, razing the two small houses and building a new “McMansion.”
“We want to preserve the character of our neighborhood,” said Sandy Eeds, a resident of the Wornall Homestead Homes Association that covers part of an area popularly called Brookside.
The result, approved Tuesday by the Kansas City Plan Commission, is a proposal for the city’s first “special character overlay zoning district” for a residential neighborhood that doesn’t already have a historic overlay.
The residential overlay district would set guidelines for land use, lot size, building size and type of fencing, much like some neighborhood association covenants, that could go a step beyond current city zoning codes.
Homes in the Wornall Homestead association generally are bounded by 57th Street on the north, Wornall Road on the west, 62nd Terrace on the south, and Brookside Boulevard, Main Street or the Trolley Track trail on the east.
There are 392 lots within its 97-acres, an area that began as a group of subdivisions within the Country Club District. The land was developed on the former John Wornall Homestead, whose antebellum house still stands at 61st Terrace and Wornall and is excluded from the residential overlay proposal.
“We’re not trying to dictate architectural style,” said resident Larry Stice of the association’s efforts.
Rather, Stice said, the association is asking for controls on such things as maximum lot size — no McMansions out of character with the current housing stock — and how close to the street something could be built.
Construction of a new house, built closer to the street than existing properties, prompted the association leadership to begin discussing how the neighborhood could have more controls without being too subjective or restrictive.
After mailings to all properties in the district, backers of the overlay district said they had contact with 241 of the houses, and 208 said they would favor the overlay district. Thirty-three opposed it.
Planners said neighborhood preservation too often was complaint-driven rather than proactive. The zoning district would provide documentation to help residents know what is permitted and what isn’t when something new is contemplated, they said.
The overlay district, as proposed, would prohibit short-term rentals as defined by the city’s zoning codes or as defined as “the lease of an entire dwelling unit for less than 30 days where the property owner is not living on the premises during any part of the lease period.”
Bed and breakfast establishments would be allowed subject to adhering to definitions and special use permits from the city.
The overlay district requires final approval from the City Council.