By Mallory Ragon of the Tribune
The city council voted on Thursday to establish a Corridor Development Overlay (CDO) district in the M-150 Highway Corridor. The application was for the second phase of a plan begun in 2010. It will implement the design standards for all new residential and commercial development, which were approved in August 2012.
Existing properties are not affected by the CDO. Though it was a point of confusion—and concern—for many, the city council and staff stressed that the standards will only apply to new commercial development or new subdivisions. Current property owners may build additions to their homes, including sheds or other structures, or rebuild their homes completely without being subject to the CDO’s building requirements.
There was a lengthy discussion of the application itself, which was presented by Bob McKay, director of Planning & Development, and what exactly the council was voting on. The design standards, as outlined in the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), have already been approved and have been implemented in Phase 1 of the project (the area including the 150 and 291 interchange). They include preferences for mixed-use development and sustainable building standards.
Several residents spoke out passionately against implementation of the CDO, naming concerns about the economic profitability of having so many development restrictions; the potential commercial development of open land; the amount of information provided by the city over the course of this project; and the project’s possible affiliation with the United Nations sustainable development action plan Agenda 21.
Only one resident spoke in favor of the CDO, though a few other people present in the council chambers identified themselves as supporters.
Many of the concerns from councilmembers referenced the real economic development potential of putting such standards in place. The design vision was frequently compared to mixed-use areas in cities like Overland Park, but Councilmember Bob Johnson was inclined to wonder why the council wasn’t considering other types of business development beyond retail and residential. He asked “How many more bedrooms can we afford?”
Councilmember Ed Cockrell admitted his biggest concern was the amount of misinformation out there, and encouraged continued education about the project.
Councilmember Brian Whitley argued that the CDO made a good way to marry the desire to preserve the natural beauty of the area and to encourage further development that is attractive.
McKay echoed his sentiments, saying, “I think it’s a good product for the city.”
The council was split on the vote, with Councilmembers Hofmann, Holland, Johnson, and Mosby voting against and Councilmembers Binney, Cockrell, Gray, and Whitley voting for. Mayor Randy Rhoads broke the tie by voting for implementation of the CDO.