A proposed apartment complex intended for 143rd Street and U.S. 69 had the Overland Park City Council and some neighbors up in arms Monday night.
After voting on the proposal three times, with each one failing, the council finally sent the requested rezoning back to the city’s Planning Commission for further review.
Most of the council members said they thought the three acres of land west of the highway, which is currently zoned R-1 single-family, shouldn’t be rezoned to RP-4, a planned cluster housing district, because it is surrounded by neighborhoods of single-family homes.
Many of them liked the project itself, but thought the area was simply the wrong place for it.
The proposed apartment complex would cater to empty-nesters, with spacious bathrooms, master bedrooms on the first floor and ample handicapped parking. There is not an age-restriction on the units, however.
The 25 rental units would feature luxurious amenities, such as granite countertops, hardwood floors, and stainless steel appliances.
With a stone and stucco ranch-house style design and immaculate landscaping, the complex would blend into the neighborhood, the developer promised.
“This isn’t your typical garden apartment complex,” Austin Chamberlain, the representative for 143rd Investments LLC, told the council. “I think we have a great project here.”
Residents living nearby, however, felt otherwise.
Several of them hired a lawyer together to fight the rezoning.
Their attorney, Jim Orr, told the council that his clients were extremely concerned about their property values going down should the apartment complex be built.
He also said the neighbors felt like the rug was being pulled out from under their feet, since they bought their homes knowing the empty lot was zoned for single-family housing.
Sam Allred, who lives near the property, worried he could lose up to 10 percent of his home’s value.
“I came into this community with my hard-earned money, to raise my family, and you can just change the zoning — it’s just not fair,” he told the council. “This is a single-family neighborhood and those apartments don’t belong there. I would love to see single-family homes there instead.”
Some other residents expressed frustration that they didn’t know the correct procedure for fighting the proposed rezoning, which is why a protest petition wasn’t filed.
A protest petition would have required 10 out of 12 council members’ approval for the rezoning to pass.
After hearing the residents’ concerns, the council was unsure what to do.
Councilman Terry Goodman was adamantly in favor of the rezoning, saying the project was an acceptable fit for the area.
He told the council that if the three acres of land were going to be developed with single-family homes, like the rest of the neighborhood, it would have happened already.
Councilman Dan Stock was touched by the homeowners who showed up to the meeting to express their concerns and told them that in the decade he has been on the council, he has never known the governing body to make a decision that negatively impacted property values.
He opposed the project and said single-family homes were a more obvious choice for the land.
Councilman Dave Janson agreed. He admired the design of the apartment complex, but said the area was the wrong place for it.
After contemplating those main concerns, the council’s first vote was whether to approve the rezoning, but that failed, with only three out of 11 voting in favor.
Then, the council voted to remand it back to the planning commission, but that vote failed as well.
Thirdly, the council voted to override the Planning Commission’s recommendation to approve, which would essentially deny the project altogether. It didn’t pass either, with a split vote.
A city attorney warned the council that it had to vote again for any action to take place.
The council voted once again to remand the project back to the planning commission for further review, and the request passed 7 to 4.