More than a year and a half after a legal battle began over the Mission Chateau senior living community, the Prairie Village City Council has green-lighted a new version of the project.
City council members voted 11-2 Monday to approve a special use permit allowing The Tutera Group to build a mix of assisted and independent living units on the 18.4-acre former site of the Mission Valley Middle School at 8500 Mission Road.
“I know it’s been a long road,” Mayor Laura Wassmer said after the vote. “I wish all of you well.”
The decision replaces the permit to build a larger senior living community that the council approved in January 2014. Nearby residents challenged that permit in court, claiming its inclusion of a 97,550-square-foot skilled nursing and memory care center violated the character of the neighborhood. That case has been pending before the Kansas Court of Appeals.
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Following several months of negotiations between the developers and the neighbors, the two sides agreed on a settlement that eliminates the skilled nursing and memory care center. Instead, Tutera plans to build a 214,800-square-foot center with 160 independent living units and 88 assisted living apartments surrounded by 11 independent living duplexes. The new plan reduces the project’s total developed area by almost 40,000 square feet.
Council members also added language mirroring provisions in the settlement agreement that no one can offer skilled nursing services on the property.
Joe Tutera, the company’s CEO, said after the vote that the developers were “very pleased” with the compromise plan.
“We set forth to develop the highest-level senior living facility in the community,” Tutera said.
He said construction would begin next spring with an estimated completion date of early 2017.
Councilmen Dan Runion and David Morrison voted against the permit.
Morrison argued that the community is already saturated with senior living space and that the land was better suited as the site for a new school.
“Before we go rushing to pat ourselves on the back for bringing two sides together, in my view, this is just the better of two very bad alternatives for Prairie Village,” Morrison said.
He attempted to argue further against the development and what he saw as Tutera’s role in preventing other uses of the property but was cut off by Wassmer, who said his comments were “out of order.” She then called for a vote on the project.
Afterward, Wassmer explained that she felt Morrison was engaging in personal attacks against Tutera.
“It didn’t pertain to tonight’s discussion and, quite frankly, I didn’t think a majority of the people here really wanted to hear it,” she said.