Twelve evergreen trees will end a six-month dispute over a neighbor’s property in south Leawood.
“Hopefully, everyone will live happily ever after,” said Mayor Peggy Dunn.
The Leawood City Council on Monday listened as two south Leawood neighbors recapped their frustration about a lighted tennis and basketball court.
Tom and Lynn DeBacco, who share a northern property line with Jeffrey and Andrea Myers of 14600 Mission Road, had a dispute with the Myerses over a combination court, mostly because of six lights that illuminate the court.
Tom DeBacco said the Myers had done a great job on their 20-acre property, but they did not do enough to shield the lighting.
“I really didn’t want to be here this evening,” DeBacco said. “If the permit was done properly in the first place, we wouldn’t be here.”
Jeffrey Myers said he and his wife have been consumed with paperwork, documentation and meetings stemming from complaints about their court from the DeBaccos. Myers spent more than 200 hours working to resolve issues associated with the court and a soccer field, he said.
The biggest challenge in building his home, Myers said, was obtaining a special-use permit for lights for his kids to play tennis at night.
“It’s been first and foremost on our mind — 200 plus hours between me and my builder,” Myers said.
The planning commission recommended approval of the special use permit for a sport court with lighting at the Myers residence on May 26.
Stipulations included construction of a court with lighting, associated landscaping and a soccer field on the approximately 20 acres for private residential use.
After a meeting at the Myers’ residence this spring with the DeBaccos and a representative from the city of Leawood, the Myers’ original 25-foot poles were reinstalled at 15 feet with shielding reinstalled to defuse extraneous light. The new poles were in line with city ordinance requirements, the DeBaccos stated in their letter to the city, but visibility remained an issue.
They had other concerns as well. The couple asked the city to require additional landscape screening to ensure that the lighting poles are not visible in addition to eliminating the lighting pollution. They asked for proper berms and evergreen screening to ensure year-round protection and runoff control. They also asked for assistance to ensure there would be no organized sporting activities, a stipulation in the city’s ordinance for the special-use permit.
Building plans called for 15 six-foot evergreen trees along the Myers’ northern boundary. Builder Cory Childress said he installed three more evergreens last week. Myers said he planted well over 400 trees on his property and has met any and all of the restrictions placed by the code, saying the city inspected the property.
“Others in the area have not had issues,” Myers said. “We have had one person object. All conditions I feel like we have met.”
A discussion Monday between city council members and Richard Coleman, the city’s director of community development, led to a unanimous vote to extend the special use permit from two years to 20 with a stipulation that 12 more evergreens be planted on the north side of the Myers’ property.
Councilman Chuck Sipple asked DeBacco if the additional 12 evergreens would satisfy him as shielding. DeBacco replied yes.
“A lot of time has been spent on this,” Myers said. “We’re happy to bring closure.”