After hours of debate, the Overland Park City Council on Dec. 1 gave Brad Vince more time to save his vision for a fourth floor on a new building on his medical campus on Metcalf Avenue.
The founder and CEO of Vince & Associates Clinical Research, Inc. came forward to the council meeting Monday night with a revised plan that would add a fourth floor on a three-story building under construction at his medical campus, which sits near 103rd Street and Metcalf Avenue.
Vince halted construction on his $5 million project until the fourth story’s fate was decided.
At the council meeting Monday, approval for the building’s revision didn’t look promising.
Several residents, who live adjacent to the property, vehemently opposed the fourth story at the public hearing. Many of them were worried the building, looming over the trees, would decrease property values for their homes, pour light into their backyards and violate their privacy.
A few council members agreed , saying the fourth story appeared excessive.
Eventually, the council voted 8-3 in favor of the revision, but the item didn’t pass, since a valid protest petition required at least 10 council members to vote for approval. David White, Jim Kite, and Fred Spears were the council members in opposition.
Instead of referring the item back to the Planning Commission, which had recommended approval, or vetoing the Planning Commission’s recommendation, which would have nixed the fourth story altogether, the council decided, at midnight, to continue the item until its meeting Dec. 15.
At that meeting, the council will vote once more on the project.
And the next vote might go differently, pointed out council members. It will also give time for Vince to make more changes, if he sees fit.
“You’ve got an opportunity to negotiate a better deal, so you better use it,” Councilman David White advised the opposing residents. “Get organized and meet in good faith with the developer.”
Vince told the council the fourth story was vital to his project, because his company is growing quickly. He insisted the fourth story would be used only for office space. The rest of the building would house medical and surgical suites for volunteers participating in overnight clinical trials.
Vince had also addressed several of the residents’ complaints.
Two of those complaints were of noise coming from the facility and the view of smokers huddled near the building.
In his revised plan, Vince created a smoking room, which would be used by volunteers participating in smoking-related medical studies only, and a sunroom. He also proposed a nine-foot fence around the property.
He also proposed removing the exterior lights along the back of the property, and the addition of louvers over the windows on the fourth floor. He also proposed adding a muffler to the existing generator.
Although many of the residents were grateful for the changes, they didn’t budge from their stance.
“My husband and I bought our house around three years ago because we were attracted to the natural beauty and quietness of this hidden gem in Overland Park,” said Kristen McLain, who lives near the facility. “We’ve invested thousands of dollars renovating our home and I feel that is being compromised now.”
Vince and his team of representatives, however, brought in Bernie Shaner to dispute the claim that property values will decrease.
Shaner, founder of Shaner Appraisals, Inc., told the council he has been in the appraising business for more than 40 years.
He examined similar neighborhoods adjacent to businesses in the city and came to the conclusion that property values would not drop if a fourth story were built at Vince & Associates.
The council members who voted to approve the plan agreed with him and also pointed out that adding a fourth floor to the building wouldn’t make much of a difference when it came to noise and privacy, especially since the space would be primarily used for daytime office workers.
“I think the buffer between the neighborhood and the building is significant,” said Councilman Paul Lyons. “There’s lots of vegetation and trees that shield the neighbors. I see this project as an investment in our community, which is a good thing.”
Councilman Terry Goodman agreed.
In the end, he has to do what’s right for the city in the long run, he told residents. He also felt a four-story building with the proposed changes was better than the current plan, which is a three-story building without them.
Although a final decision has yet to be made, the council did agree on one thing: the passion displayed by the residents attending the meeting was admirable.
After all, Goodman said, if residents don’t care enough about their neighborhoods to speak their mind, that’s when a city knows it’s in trouble.