Lee’s Summit approves Missouri 150 plan, but council members debate if it will succeed

rpulley@lsjournal.comSeptember 11, 2013 

Mayor Randy Rhoads twice cast tie-breaking votes at a Lee’s Summit City Council meeting as members deadlocked on issues, disagreeing over whether the city is being business friendly.

Rhoads voted against a proposal to deny Hy-Vee at 301 NE Rice Road a special-use permit to use trailers for temporary storage, which led to a compromise to allow the trailers.

He also voted to approve extending the Missouri 150 Overlay District to the western city limit. The regulations are already in place surrounding the M-150 and Missouri 291 intersection.

Rhoads said he remembers only voting a few times previously, so twice in one evening was unusual.

Both issues discussed at public hearings during the Sept. 5 meeting will require a final vote on the ordinances at a future meeting.

Councilmember Dave Mosby and others argued the city should find ways to assist business.

He said the added M-150 regulations or refusal of a temporary permit, which Hy-Vee wanted until it could expand its grocery, are hinderances.

“It’s just not business friendly,” Mosby said.

He said the overlay would put too much of a burden on developers at a time when Lee’s Summit was trying to restart development after the economic slump that started in 2008.

Councilmember Ed Cockrell objected to Hy-Vee’s plan and supported the corridor expansion. He said there have always been “doomsday” predictions when the city tried to tighten regulations.

Even as standards got tougher “We have not failed as a community,” Cockrell said.

Cockrell said the trailers would be blemish along a major thoroughfare that could spread to other areas too.

“I don’t want to see other businesses go the same route,” Cockrell said. “This is blight.”

Councilmember Allan Gray said he was concerned the city would “open a floodgate” for similar requests.

Hy-Vee officials want the trailers to store paper goods and other items when the store is running specials.

They had been using trailers before the city received a complaint, staff said.

Councilmember Bob Johnson said the trailers had low impact and a temporary permit was reasonable.

“I didn’t realize they were there, they were just part of the landscape,” Johnson said. “For months I drove by and didn’t recognize those trailers were there.”

Cockrell moved to deny Hy-Vee’s request, and Derek Holland, Brian Whitley and Gray voted with him. Councilmembers Johnson, Rob Binney, Mosby and Kathy Hofmann voted no.

Rhoads voted no, which allowed Johnson to propose an ordinance giving Hy-Vee a two-year permit.

Binney asked for an amendment to one-year, unanimously accepted, and Cockrell asked for a stipulation that Hy-Vee submit an expansion plan before the permit is issued, which the majority approved.

Whitley said that the compromise would insure Hy-Vee moves ahead with expansion plans instead of relying on the trailers.

The council unanimously voted to go ahead with the permit.

Debate over the M-150 Corridor Overlay was similar.

The overlay allows new categories for mixed development but also adds some environmental requirements. Developers would have to choose from a menu of amenities to add such as rain gardens or biking trails, or solar power, to meet the regulations under a point system.

A few residents testified that the overlay could interfere too much with individual property rights.

Amy Fox said her research showed the principals in the overlay showed they were those used by the United Nations for promoting “sustainable” growth, which could lead to lots of interference with property owners.

“Are you encouraging or discouraging business?” Fox said.

Bob McKay, director of community development, said the regulations apply only to large developers, who also have the option of asking the council to modify the regulations for their projects.

He said that if the overlay became a “log jam” for development, the city can amend it. He said the intent is to work with developers to create lasting neighborhoods that will appeal to future residents.

Holland said he didn’t see anything in the overlay that will promote development.

“We’re going to be sitting on a vital piece of property here that’s going to go undeveloped under these guidelines,” Holland said.

Whitley said he supported the overlay because the storm water provisions could help protect Raintree Lake from siltation, which is an expensive problem for lake residents, he said.

Gray said that he didn’t think the overlay would be a drag on development.

“These design standards, for many developers, are old hat.” he said.

Whitley, Cockrell, Binney and Gray voted for extending the overlay, while Holland, Hofmann, Mosby and Johnson voted no. Rhoads voted yes.

Rhoads said the city involved area residents, for several years, in the process of creating the overlay attending open houses and meetings. They opposed part of that plan, and in response, city officials backed away from allowing dense housing, instead keeping the current 12-units per acre maximum, but many endorsed it overall.

“They want to protect their property values,” Rhoads said in an interview. “I supported the residents, basically.”

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