The Olathe City Council has approved a commercial development at 175th Street and Lone Elm Road that had attracted concern from surrounding residents.
On Tuesday, the council voted unanimously to rezone the 10-acre site at the southwest corner of the intersection for the project that would feature 30,400 square feet of commercial space.
Grata Development plans to build two multi-tenant retail buildings, a drive-thru restaurant and a convenience store and gas station. The development would have entrances on both 175th Street and Lone Elm Road.
No residents spoke against the development during the council meeting, but city planner Dan Fernandez told the council that the city had received 46 objections to the project from residents in the Nottington Creek subdivision that surrounds the property to the west and south of the property.
Fernandez said most of the neighborhood’s concerns have been focused on how much additional traffic and storm water runoff the project may generate as well as whether there will be adequate control of parking lot lighting and drive-thru speaker noise. He said traffic improvements are part of the overall project, although city staff also plan to conduct studies of traffic at the intersection to see what other safety precautions may be needed. He said the developers will need to meet the city’s regulations for retaining storm water on the property and avoiding neighborhood disruptions.
In addition, the developers have agreed to provide additional vegetation along the western and southern borders to better screen the shopping center from residents.
“They’re going to maintain over 100 mature trees that are currently on the site, so I think that’s a very positive step,” said Councilwoman Karin Brownlee.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to approve an indoor athletic facility at a former distribution building on 17 acres at 2115 E. Kansas City Road. The Elite Sports complex will have soccer training facilities, 15 small indoor soccer fields, a full-size soccer field, a gymnasium, an indoor fitness center, an indoor track, baseball training facilities and a pediatrician medical office.
The council also agreed to issue almost $24 million in industrial revenue bonds to help Fremato USA Inc. expand its existing office and distribution center at 16355 S. Lone Elm Road, a move the company said would add 187 jobs over the next decade. The company plans to expand its warehouse facility by 250,000 square feet and its office facility by 36,000 square feet. Fremato would be allowed to phase in between 50 percent and 55 percent of future property tax gains on the site of the over the next 10 years.
The company, not the city, is responsible for paying off the bonds.
The council also considered a proposal to upgrade the intersection of Old 56 Highway and South Lone Elm Road with a so-called “displaced left turn” intersection. This configuration, which would be the first in Kansas and the first in the Kansas City region, would direct drivers heading east or west on Old 56 and looking to turn left onto Lone Elm into a separate lane in advance of the intersection. This configuration would reduce the number of lanes necessary at the intersection itself, said Beth Wright, deputy director of public works.
Wright said more than 35,500 vehicles use the intersection every day, and it’s almost at capacity. Expanding it using normal methods would require 23 lanes of traffic, which she said would increase delays during rush hour.
The intersection work would be part of a larger, $19.5 million project to expand the currently two-lane Lone Elm Road corridor from Old 56 Highway to 151st Street.
If approved by the council, the project would begin construction as soon as March 2020 and be completed late that year or in early 2021, Wright said.
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