Tuesday, Dec. 11 2012 5:01PM
Council kerfuffle over zoning
Council prepares for zoning annexed Unity property
By Russ Pulley
The Lee’s Summit City Council gave green lights to a new apartment complex and to zoning of a different site for a possible office park, but the zoning caused some debate.
The council members Dec. 6 voted to draft ordinances to permit building the Hearthview at New Longview Apartments with little discussion, following a presentation by the developer and city staff.
That project is for 327 apartment units next to an existing apartment complex on Longview Road in the subdivision.
Developer Jim Thomas describes the apartments as luxury units for young professionals or established adults who prefer apartment living. A three bedroom apartment is expected to rent for about $1,300 and all the apartments would have hardwood floors and granite counter tops.
Once the council has voted to draft an ordinance generally the formal vote on the ordinance is approved, so getting a vote to draft the ordinance is usually the major hurdle. Occasionally when there is a hotly debated topic and a close vote where council members might change their minds there’s more doubt.
The zoning of Unity property at Missouri 350 and Colbern Road fell into that category, although it seems to have enough support to pass.
The zoning is part of an agreement with Unity School of Christianity and Unity Village that switched about 350 acres of property from within Unity Village into Lee’s Summit city limits. The city staff has proposed a PMIX zoning classification, the city’s most expansive category.
Bob McKay, director of development, said it could include commercial, retail, residential or industrial projects.
Under the PMIX zoning, the landowner or developer would submit a conceptual plan to the city for approval for future development, which would include many of the specifics for the land use. That plan would have to go through the Planning Commission and the City Council. The council could reject that plan, it would not be obligated to approve a specific plan because of the zoning, he said.
McKay said that because of the unusual circumstance in that the land currently has no established zones designated for its development. Usually the city would accept current zoning on annexed land, typically agricultural, and wait for the owners to propose a new zoning classification
But without zoning in place, his reasoning was to choose a broad category to allow flexibility.
Councilmember Ed Cockrell objected to the zoning saying it seemed “overly simplistic.”
He and said perhaps some of the area that should be set aside as green space.
“It’s too wide open for me,” Cockrell said “I could end up with residential in that area, that’s not going to happen at least while I am a councilmember.”
Councilmember Bob Johnson said the council was wasting time on the debate saying it was too late. He said the council already made a “terrible decision” to agree to the annexation which included a plan for city to install $3.8 million in sewers and other infrastructure in advance of development and tax abatement for the first phase of 109 acres of commercial development. The city is to be repaid for the improvements.
Councilmember Kathy Hofmann said she is concerned the zoning might encourage a developer to offer a project the city wouldn’t want in any case.
“I don’t want to see somebody spending money on an application to be denied,” Hofmann said.
Councilmember Allan Gray voiced similar concerns. “I’m going down the road with Councilmember Cockrell,” he said.
But after more debate, Gray chose to vote to draft an ordinance to give the land PMIX zoning, after Councilmember Rob Binney made that motion.
City Manager Steve Arbo had told the council that with all the property under one ownership, Unity, the city isn’t likely to see development that is out of place.
“Unity will be concerned about something next door to their world headquarters,” he said.
During the annexation talks, Unity was working on a preliminary master plan with its realtor and sharing it with the city, so both parties have a clear view of each other’s expectations, Arbo said.
Cockrell moved to send the zoning issue to the Community and Economic Development Committee for a more defined plan, but only got support from Hofmann and Councilmember Derek Holland.
Binney moved that the city draft an ordinance giving the land PMIX zoning. That was approved by 5-2 vote, enough to pass the ordinance when it comes to the council, unless opponents can change minds. Council members Binney, Gray, Johnson, Holland and David Mosby voted yes, with council members Cockrell and Hofmann voting no. Brian Whitley was absent.