Developers for the proposed Mission Chateau retirement community in Prairie Village have been given a small measure of breathing room as they attempt to resolve their differences with nearby residents.
Tutera Partnership MVS LLC was required under its original special use permit to begin construction on the project at 8500 Mission Road by January 2016. But the city council on Monday agreed to extend that to February 2016, recognizing that Tutera has continued to negotiate in good faith but is under increasing danger of not getting started in time.
That said, council members warned that they wanted progress from the negotiations to continue and for the two sides to reach an agreement quickly.
“The city would like this to be resolved in 30 days; we’d ask the parties to redouble their efforts to make that happen,” said Councilman Eric Mikkelson.
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Earlier Monday, the developers unveiled significant changes they’ve made to the project in response to concerns from neighbors.
The development’s overall size has shrunk by more than 88,000 square feet, or 24 percent, to 285,948 square feet and no longer includes a planned 136-bed skilled nursing center that was expected to have 100 employees or an associated memory care unit. Some of this lost space was replaced with almost 23,000 square feet in additional residential space. Green space on the 18.4-acre site has increased by more than an acre and a half, and a new architect is using residential duplexes and the site’s own topography to shield more of the three-story assisted living building from traffic on Mission Road.
Randy Bloom, president and chief executive for Tutera Senior Living and Health Care, said the company has been meeting with members of the Mission Valley Neighbors Association for almost six months and that most of the residents concerns have been addressed.
He said some details remain to be resolved but declined to say what they are.
“We believe that we have a verbal agreement in principle on the site plan itself,” Bloom told council members.
He said an extension of the special use permit was necessary to “stop the clock” and that his group has negotiated in good faith.
“If we are to move forward with this (permit), we don’t want our existing (permit) to run its course,” he said.
Brian Doerr, an attorney and Prairie Village resident who is part of the opposition group, agreed that the two sides have made great strides and estimated a final agreement could be “four to six weeks” away.
However, Doerr argued that extending the special use permit’s deadline was not necessary or helpful while the negotiations were continuing.
“If we’re really focused on the new (permit) and we really think we’ve got an agreement, then let’s put our energy in getting that done,” Doerr said.
The original plan called for construction of a retirement community featuring independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation on the site of the former Mission Valley Middle School.
Residents opposed the plan, saying its size and density was out of scale with the surrounding community.
Last year, after a Johnson County district judge refused to overturn the city’s decision granting a special use permit for Mission Chateau, 48 plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the Kansas Court of Appeals. The case is moving through the appellate process, but it could take many months if not more than a year to reach a decision.
If the two sides agree on a new plan, the project would require a new special use permit. The city would have to schedule a new public hearing and give residents an opportunity to develop a protest petition. The new permit would be considered first by the Planning Commission and then the council.