Neighbors to the immediate south of the planned Shawnee Landing shopping center lost another round with the city this week as the Shawnee Planning Commission accepted a site plan for the center that includes a 55-foot retaining wall.
The commission on a 7-3 vote approved developers’ plans for the center at the southwest corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road despite neighbors’ concerns that the project may flood their homes during heavy storms and will hurt their property values.
The neighborhood along Bell Road, which is just to the south and west of the development, has objected to the development for weeks, with homeowners turning out for meeting after meeting. They contend that the development’s sewer system, which runs near their street, will tear out hundreds of their trees, that the water runoff will cause an increased flood risk during heavy rains and that increased traffic will invite more crime to the area. They also said the development does not have enough buffering to protect the property values in a neighborhood of high-end homes on large lots.
Several residents along Bell Road turned out at the commission meeting Monday night to urge officials to reject the site plan outlining how the center will be built. Much of their testimony focused on the retaining wall, which they said would loom over their homes and treetops.
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The residents had hoped to get some terracing or plantings along the wall, which they compared to the shorter wall for the Ikea store in Merriam. But developers did not agree to those ideas because of the extra space for the tiers and the possible damage plants could cause.
“I don’t think there’s going to be anything aesthetically pleasing about this wall,” said Don Lysaught, a Bell Road resident who has often presented the neighborhood’s case to city and county officials.
Water runoff was also an issue. Some residents questioned whether the retention pond in the site plan would be enough to protect their yards from flooding during heavy storms, and whether the pond will be well maintained to prevent the outflow spout from becoming clogged with debris.
Curtis Petersen, the development lawyer, countered that the runoff calculations took heavy flooding into account and that neighbors’ runoff estimates were much higher than reasonable expectations for this area, even in heavy storms.
He also said the wall would not loom as dramatically as residents depicted because of its distance from their lots.
Three commissioners agreed with the residents. Commissioner Steven Wise said, “I’m really concerned about the long-term impact on the neighborhood. I think this is going to have a real negative impact on this neighborhood.”
Wise and commissioners Brandon Kenig and Jason Sheahan voted against the site plan, in a rare roll-call vote.
Residents did win a six-foot fence at the top of the retention basin wall to block noise and prevent people from throwing in trash. Developers also agreed to lower the height of some lights on the south side of the development.
Shawnee leaders have been keen to build on the 26-acre site and have been moving quickly on it in the past few months. Other sections in the area close to Interstate 435 already have shopping centers. As it now stands, the development will include a yet-to-be-named anchor store, strip center and outlying individual pad sites. The project is estimated to cost $56 million, with a proposed $15.4 million in city participation.
The city passed its first hurdle when the Johnson County Commission approved the sewer plan, which was also opposed by the Bell Road neighborhood. The city has agreed to pay a percentage of the sewer construction cost, estimated to be $115,000. Residents have since filed suit asking the Johnson County District Court to overturn that approval.
The city also has started the process for a Tax Increment Financing district to support the development. Public financing may also include a sales tax dedicated to infrastructure.