A new Mission Chateau plan reducing the scope and size of the proposed $50 million retirement community project is gaining a positive reaction from opposing neighbors.
“I think they will come to an agreement,” City Councilwoman Laura Wassmer said in January.
Wassmer said a positive discussion occurred at a Jan. 14 meeting between the developer and opposition group.
“I saw a spirit of cooperation not evident in the past,” she said.
To allow time for negotiations, the council voted to delay action on a final plat for the project until Feb. 17. Also delayed until Feb. 17 was action on the developer’s request to either extend the existing special use permit or stay the expiration of the permit due to the extended legal battle.
Currently, the permit requires start of construction by January 2016. The council agreed at a committee of the whole meeting to appoint a committee to define “start of the construction” and determine whether it relates to demolition and grading work or actual vertical construction.
Timothy J. Sear of the Polsinelli Law Firm, which represents Tutera Partnership MVS LLC, opposed the council’s decision to delay action on the request to extend the special use permit. He said negotiations would be time-consuming.
“The clock continues to run on the two-year time period for the” permit, he said.
Last year Johnson County District Judge Thomas Sutherland ruled in favor of the city’s decision to issue a special-use permit for the project. Forty-eight plaintiffs, many of whom are members of the Mission Valley Neighbors Association, appealed the ruling.
Sear said the council’s decision not to stop the clock on the special-use permit would require MVS to begin construction even while litigation is pending.
“If we start work and the court determines the city acted improperly in approving the SUP, the work we’ve done would have to be torn down,” he said.
If the two parties agree on the new plan, a new special-use permit request would be required for the proposed project at 8500 Mission Road, the site of the former Mission Valley Middle School. The new permit would be considered first by the Planning Commission and then the council.
City Administrator Quinn Bennion said the process would also include a public hearing on the new plan and sufficient time to allow for a protest petition. The city will not see the new plan unless a developers seek a new special-use permit, he said.
Sear said he was hopeful the new plan would resolve the disputes surrounding the project. “We’re hopeful this will lead to a resolution so the project will be supported by MVS, the neighbors and city council,” he said.
Brian Doerr, an attorney and Prairie Village resident who is part of the opposition group, said “serious discussions are occurring between residents and Tutera regarding the plan. We want the focus to be on making progress and the new plan.”
The original plan called for construction of a 350,000-square-foot retirement community featuring independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation.
Residents opposed to the project objected to the size and density of the project, saying such a large project wasn’t in keeping with the neighborhood.
In other action, the council approved the low bid of $3.4 million from O’Donnell and Sons Construction for the rehabilitation of 75th Street from State Line to Mission Road.
The project is expected to begin in March and continue through November. Traffic will be reduced to one lane throughout the project.
The approved bid marked the second round of bids on the project. Initial bids came in $1.2 million higher than the city’s cost estimate. The council directed the Kansas Department of Transportation to reject all bids and rebid the project in early 2015.
Project costs were reduced by revising the plans to include a thinner layer of asphalt and less pavement repair, which resulted in a savings of about $300,000. The city will use $500,000 from the CARS street rehabilitation fund and $300,000 from the city’s drainage repair program to cover the additional cost of the project.