Overland Park & Leawood

November 19, 2013

Overland Park denies variance on ‘sidewalk to nowhere’

The home,at 15400 Larsen, sits on a corner lot, with a street on one side and green space on the other.

An Overland Park couple lost its battle to forgo building a “sidewalk to nowhere.”

At its meeting Monday evening, the city council voted 8-4 to deny the couple a variance from the requirement of building a sidewalk in front of their newly constructed home in the Colton Lakes Estate subdivision.

A representative for the couple argued it wasn’t a matter of money, it was a matter of aesthetics and practicality.

The home, located at 15400 Larsen, sits on a corner lot, with a street on one side and green space on the other. The sidewalk, required by the city, will be placed in front of the home, with one end leading to the street and the other ending abruptly at their yard.

The sidewalk would be useless, said Rod Richardson, the couple’s attorney, because it sits directly in front of a dead end. The portion of Larsen in front of the home leads into grass.

“If the city doesn’t put the street through, the sidewalk won’t connect to anything,” Richardson said. “It’s unfair and unreasonable to ask them to build this sidewalk now.”

His clients understood that one day Overland Park might complete the street, Richardson continued, but they find it unlikely considering the city would have to go through a private residence to do so. But even so, Richardson said that in addition to the requested variance, the couple wanted to include a stipulation that if the street was indeed one day completed, they would construct the sidewalk.

A few council members sympathized with the homeowners and agreed the sidewalk would be useless until the street was completed.

“This is a sidewalk to nowhere that will serve no immediate purpose,” said Councilman Terry Goodman. “I think we can show flexibility while serving the city’s interest in making sure that sidewalk is built at an appropriate time.”

Councilman Dan Stock, however, argued that the viability of the city’s sidewalk policy was at stake.

“We need, as a governing body, to let our staff enforce our policy,” he said.

Councilman Curt Skoog agreed. He pointed out that if the council granted this variance then even more people wanting sidewalk variances would come out of the woodwork.

But Goodman wasn’t swayed.

“There’s no such thing as a policy that covers all situations,” Goodman said. “Implementation of a policy requires reason — is this appropriate? Why or why not?”

In the end, Goodman was among only a handful of council members who wanted to spare the couple from building the sidewalk.

The next step, the mayor told the council, is evident.

“We need to complete that road,” he said.

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