Despite the concerns of nearby residents and even some city staff, the Olathe Planning Commission on Monday night recommended approval of a 97-lot subdivision adjacent to Woodland Road in north Olathe.
Commissioners voted 5-1 to send the proposal to the City Council for a final vote on Dec. 5.
Developer Greg Prieb of Prieb Homes has requested rezoning 34.6 acres north and east of Woodland Elementary School for the single-family subdivision, called Woodland Hills. The neighborhood would access Woodland Road by tying into 115th Terrace to the north and 116th Terrace to the south.
Representatives for the developer told commissioners that the project met the requirements of the Woodland Road Corridor Plan, a city-drafted set of guidelines for development in the area that designates most of the surrounding property for single-family development.
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In particular, the plan calls for residential density of up to three units per acre. Woodland Hills would have 2.8 units per acre.
City planning staff, however, said the corridor plan was outdated, having been last revised in 2004. Since then, they said, traffic has continued to grow on Woodland Road with severe congestion in the mornings, particularly around 115th Terrace and 119th Street.
City planner Dan Fernandez said if the surrounding vacant land was allowed to be developed to three units per acre, the traffic would only get worse. He recommended limiting Woodland Hills’ density to 2.3 units per acre, which would require shrinking the development to 79 lots.
Fernandez’s concerns were echoed by nearby residents, particularly those living south of the proposed subdivision whose street would become a cut-through for Woodland Hills residents trying to get to Woodland Road.
“A majority of the people that bought a house in that neighborhood bought the house specifically because of what that neighborhood is, and to open that up to a new neighborhood and make that an entrance devalues the homes in that area,” said Brendon Pishny, who lives on 116th Terrace.
Kerri Holtzman, who also lives on 116th Terrace, said she moved to the area because it was quiet and less congested than other areas of Johnson County and she didn’t want to lose that. She said she at least hoped the city would consider adding traffic-calming measures to slow down vehicles coming out of the new subdivision.
Ultimately, commissioners acknowledged the residents’ and staff’s concerns but essentially punted those questions to the City Council, who they said were more able to debate housing density and traffic improvements than they were.
“My son went to Woodland and I understand that 115th (Terrace) is a problem,” Commissioner Michael Rinke said. “I’m not sure that that’s the applicant’s issue to solve that problem. That’s a City Council issue.”
In other business, the commission recommended approval for rezoning 25.3 acres at the southwest corner of 165th Street and Mur-Len Road for Boulder Creek Villas, a development of 42 duplexes.
Commissioners also recommended approval for rezoning 47.2 acres on the north side of 119th Street a quarter-mile west of Kansas Highway 7 for Timberstone Ridge, a 36-lot subdivision where developers say home prices will start around $1 million.
The developers, Prime Land Development Company, are envisioning large lots designed to preserve as much of the surrounding forest as possible and accommodate a creek running along the west and north borders of the property.
The neighborhood currently has only a single entry/exit on 119th Street, but the developers said they would build an emergency access road for emergency crews to reach the north side of the property in case the main subdivision roads are blocked.
Commissioners also recommended approval for rezoning 10 acres at 159th Street and Ridgeview Road for Harvest Bible Chapel, which plans to build a 25,450-square-foot church and set aside areas for future development, including a 10,000-square-foot expanded worship area, a gymnasium and a children’s playground.
These three items are also scheduled to go before the City Council for a final vote on Dec. 5.
David Twiddy: firstname.lastname@example.org