The Prairie Village City Council thinks plans for a new fried chicken restaurant on State Line Road need to cook a little more.
Council members voted unanimously Monday night to send back to the city Planning Commission a request to rezone 1.37 acres at 7930 State Line Road to allow for a Slim Chickens restaurant. A majority said they wanted the commissioners to reconsider how to reduce the project’s potential effects on homeowners whose properties back up to the site, which currently holds an office building.
David Wooldridge, one of those residents, complained to the council that he and his neighbors already have to deal with drive-thru and late-night noise from the Panda Express restaurant nearby. He said a second restaurant, also with a drive-thru, would exacerbate the situation with additional noise, light pollution, car music and cooking odors.
“We can sit on our back patio and actually write the orders for egg rolls from the Panda Express,” Wooldridge said. “I think the city has a duty to protect our peace and our security and our welfare from encroachment … from two thriving businesses that will be going seven days a week like merry-go-rounds in your backyard.”
Mitch DiCarlo, a development coordinator with Block & Company Inc., representing the Slim Chickens owners, said the developers have already made many changes to accommodate the residents, such as agreeing to build a larger fence, add more landscaping to the property line the restaurant would share with the homes and close at 10 p.m. even though several nearby restaurants stay open later.
“There have been a lot of concessions and design adjustments and studies and all kinds of efforts to make this project acceptable,” DiCarlo said.
Slim Chickens is based in Fayetteville, Ark., and currently has locations in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Missouri. They’re also planning to open a location on 135th Street in Overland Park.
The initial vote to approve the restaurant’s rezoning request failed 5-6.
Councilwoman Jori Nelson suggested approving the restaurant but removing permission for a drive-thru, noting the owners’ own claims that drive-thru traffic made up only a third of their business. But that proposal also failed, defeated on a 4-7 vote.
Mayor Laura Wassmer then recommended sending it back to planning commissioners to make changes to the drive-thru and reduce the restaurant’s potential noise problems and effect on traffic.
Councilwoman Sheila Myers also said she’d like to consider adding regulations to the city codes limiting the sound levels of drive-thru loudspeakers and prohibiting drive-thrus at businesses that are adjacent to residential areas.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at City Hall to consider creating a tax-increment financing, or TIF, district connected to the planned redevelopment of the former Meadowbrook Country Club.
The proposed TIF district would include two project areas: the 137-acre former country club property currently being eyed for multi-use redevelopment and 22 acres containing the Meadowbrook Shopping Village at 95th Street and Nall Avenue.
A TIF district allows the city to divert any future increases in the assessed tax value of the affected properties to pay for eligible redevelopment costs within the district.
VanTrust Real Estate LLC proposes selling around 90 acres of the country club property to the city for a public park and redeveloping the rest of the land for a senior living center and a mix of single-family homes, luxury apartments, town homes and a boutique inn. City officials estimate the district would over 20 years generate between $15 million and $18 million, which they would use to pay for buying the park land, building park improvements or constructing other public infrastructure.
They have no plans for the commercial property. Instead, the city wants to ensure that they maximize the potential incremental tax gain if those buildings are redeveloped in the future.
Gary Anderson, the city’s bond counsel, said the hearing would be “the first step in a multitude of steps” and that it doesn’t obligate the city to ultimately approve the TIF district or approve the planned Meadowbrook development.