The Olathe City Council approved a single-family subdivision off of Woodland Road in north Olathe on Tuesday but limited it to fewer lots than the developers originally wanted to reduce the project’s potential effect on surrounding streets.
Councilmembers voted unanimously to rezone the 34.6-acre property north and east of Woodland Elementary School for 79 lots.
Prieb Homes had proposed building 97 lots for the Woodland Hills subdivision. The neighborhood would access Woodland Road by tying into 115th Terrace to the north and the Woodland Hills Reserve subdivision to the south.
The land falls within the Woodland Road Corridor Plan, a city-drafted set of guidelines for development in the area that currently allows single-family development of up to three units per acre. At 97 lots, the neighborhood would have been 2.8 units per acres.
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City planning staff, however, said the corridor plan is outdated, having been last revised in 2004. Since then, they said, traffic has continued to increase on Woodland Road with severe congestion in the mornings, particularly around 115th Terrace and 119th Street.
There still remains a significant amount of land undeveloped in the area, including 150 acres north of the proposed subdivision. If that land is allowed to develop at 2.8 units per acre or denser, staff said, it would make traffic even worse.
The city plans in 2020 to begin expanding Woodland Road between College Avenue and Kansas 10, which will help with traffic heading north on Woodland Road. But currently there are no plans to expand the road heading south, where it crosses a busy railroad.
Pete Heaven, an attorney representing the developer, said the development would bring high-priced homes to the area. He offered to reduce the number of lots from 97 to 90, saying that would increase the lot sizes to match those of other recently approved subdivisions in the area and that he felt the 79-lot figure was arbitrary.
“As planners, we plan for the future, we don’t plan for the present,” Heaven said. “We are told that Woodland Road is going to be improved, but we’re planning like it will never be improved.”
Councilmembers eventually agreed with the staff’s recommendation to shrink the number of lots to 79, which would make the density 2.3 units per acre. They said that should be the standard for future redevelopment in the area and recommended that staff consider updating the corridor plan soon.
“I think 79 units is a good compromise between being able to develop and yet not choking those roads that people can’t get to work or get home from work or get the kids to school on time,” Councilman Jim Randall said.
Neighbors had asked the council to put rezoning the property on hold entirely until a new corridor plan is completed because of concerns about traffic and density.
Kerri Holtzman and Brendon Pishny said they lived in Mission Hills Reserve and worried how the new subdivision would affect the safety and serenity of their community.
“For us, it’s a personal issue,” Pishny said. “We live right there and we’re going to have a lot of cars going through our neighborhood.”
In other business, the council voted 5-2 to approve rezoning 47 acres at 119th Street west of Kansas 7 for Timberstone Ridge, a 36-lot subdivision of “estate” lots and large tracts of undeveloped forests and stream corridors.
While the rezoning was approved, the developers, Prime Land Development Company, are still negotiating with the developers of an adjacent tract to the east to provide access for emergency vehicles as required by city law.
That access must be provided before city officials will sign off on final development plans and allow construction to begin. The lack of access in the current plans caused Randall and Councilman Larry Campbell to vote against the development.
The council also voted unanimously to rezone 25 acres at W. 169th Street and S. Mur-Len Road for Boulder Creek Villas, a proposed neighborhood of 42 duplexes. It is part of the larger Boulder Creek single-family subdivision.
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