By Stephanie Edwards
Tribune Reporter

Planning Commission Chair Jason Norbury expressed reservations over the appearance of a proposed office building citing the “modern look” that contrasted with the style of Unity World Headquarters. Commission member Colene Roberts echoed his disapproval.

The seven-acre plot of land located at the southwest corner of Northwest Colbern Road and Northwest Blue Parkway is part of an ongoing project between the city and Unity Realty. Realtor Michael Van Buskirk addressed the Planning Commission during the January 10 meeting to present the preliminary development plan for the first phase of the proposed overall 300-acre development. “Phase 1-A,” as he called it, concerns the development of Summit Eye Clinic.

The land in the proposed Summit Village project is owned by Unity but is now in the Lee’s Summit city limits.

Hector Soto, Jr., Planning Division Manager for the City of Lee’s Summit, illustrated for the commission the placement of the proposed 18,500 square foot “eye-care and surgery building” in relation to the rest of the proposed project. A modification was added to the application that would provide a required buffer between the commercial development and existing residential areas, including a parking garage. The buffer would be in the form of landscaping between the commercial property and the apartment building, but a fence would provide the buffer between the parking garage and the proposed commercial property.

Commissioner Norbury addressed concerns over the buffer. “I don’t have an issue buffering between a parking lot and a parking lot,” Norbury said. “I do have an issue between where people live and a commercial use.” He said he would prefer that a fence would run along the length of the apartment building as well so that there would be “some actual buffering” between the apartment residents and the project.

Norbury also questioned the proposed architecture of the building. “My opinion on the subject…is that is kind of a landmark piece of property,” he said, speaking of the main campus of Unity Village. “It’s got the tower, the beautiful buildings that are there. They have a very unique style.” He was disappointed that none of the architecture was reflected in the proposed buildings.

“I don’t expect a twenty-first century office park to call to every detail or build to the same architectural design as a twentieth century religious institution,” Norbury said. “But I think we can do better.”

He said that the proposed building would set the precedent for further buildings.

Van Buskirk said that there was a desire on the part of the Unity developers not to make the new building look like Unity Village. “They want a clear differentiation of the Unity Village main campus and this commercial development,” he said. He said that the designers would confer with the developers. He asked that the preliminary development plan be approved.

Commissioner Roberts commented that she understood the desire not to make it look the same as Unity Village but still had an issue with the architecture. “I think that it is going to contrast to the point that it very unattractive sitting next to Unity Village.”

The vote tied 3-3. According to the city’s website: “This Public Hearing is to be continued to a date certain of February 9, 2017 per staff’s request.”