Leawood’s City Council on Monday night rejected advice from its city administrator and instead directed the staff to draw up an agreement that would allow a homeowner to replace a wooden fence erected more than 20 years ago within the city’s right of way along Mission Road near 119th Street.
According to a note in the meeting agenda, Administrator Scott Lambers “strongly recommended” that the council reject John Snyder’s request for permission to erect a new fence along the same line as the fence that had enclosed his back yard ever since he moved in in 2001. Lambers did so because the fence, which apparently predates the previous homeowner to at least 1991, encroaches upon the city’s 50-foot right-of-way easement east of Mission Road.
Lambers admitted the city was at fault for not having inspected the fence’s location when it was originally erected. But he maintained that the city should not accept an encroachment upon its right of way, lest others petition for the same thing, citing the precedent of the Snyder case.
“It’s much more than this individual applicant,” Lambers said. “We need a consistent approach.”
Snyder brought photos and diagrams to show the council, describing the unusual layout of his property. His address is 11912 Mohawk Road, but his back yard borders Mission Road. Such an arrangement was referred to as a “through lot,” and city officials admitted they were rare.
Snyder had already appeared before the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals and gotten permission to place the new fence right along his property line, rather than abiding by a setback requirement in the city code. But moving the fence would put it right up against his patio and swimming pool, Snyder said, and make it difficult to mow the right of way along Mission, as he is required to do.
He sought and eventually obtained the council’s approval for permission to encroach upon the city’s right of way, with the proviso that he would move the fence back if the city ever decided to widen Mission Road from two to four lanes behind his house.
Underground utility work could still take place within the city’s right of way, regardless of the fence, although Snyder said none had been done there since he lived in the house.
The issue came to a head when Synder’s fence contractor tried to get a permit for the replacement fence, and city staff informed Synder of the encroachment.
Allowing him to rebuild the old fence would leave the city “no worse off than it’s been the last 25 years,” Snyder said. “In fact, it’s better, because it’s a better fence.”
The council discussed the matter for about an hour, with references to the original platting of the subdivision, the alignment of Mission Road, other non-conforming fences along the block and more.
“There is no intent by the city or the citizen to do anything wrong,” Councilman Tom Robinett said. “It’s a unique situation. ... The agreement Mr. Snyder proposes doesn’t scare me so much to look at a unique situation and grant an exception.”
“At some point, common sense has to enter into it,” said Councilman James Azeltine.
The majority agreed, with only Councilwoman Julie Cain voting against Snyder’s request.
Dog park’s name
The council also approved a name for the new dog park expected to open soon in Leawood City Park, 10601 Lee Blvd.
The council voted unanimously for the name Leawoof dog park. The other possibility recommended by the parks and recreation committee was Canine Creek.
The dog park borders Indian Creek.