By Stephanie Edwards
Sallee Homes requested that an application made for a development known as West Ridge at the Lake in the Lakewood area be sent back to the Planning Commission. The development area includes approximately 23 acres at the southeast corner of NE Bowlin Road and NE Jamestown Road. The application before the Council included a request to rezone the development area from agriculture to RP-4 and CP-2 as well as approval of the preliminary development plan.
The public hearing on the application had been continued from the July 13 regular Council meeting.
Mayor Randy Rhoads characterized the request as “hitting the reset button” on the project.
Attorney Greg Musil, representing the applicant, said that the developer had met multiple times with City staff members, councilmembers, and residents in the area, including the developer of a neighboring development. “The results of those meetings are a number of changes to the plan that we’ve agreed to make that will address most of the concerns,” Mr. Musil said.
The new plan includes increasing the land area in order to reduce the density of the development, the parking spaces have been increased, green space has been increased as well as amenities around existing ponds and future detention ponds, he said.
“We haven’t cracked the full nut on two issues that are important,” Mr. Musil continued. “One is connectivity to the neighborhood, and then the road costs depending on which road system is created.” One option is improvement of Jamestown Road; the other is connection of a new Jamestown Road “either through or beside this network,” he said.
“To keep the momentum moving, and to keep addressing as many concerns as we can, we’d ask that you remand us to the Planning Commission so that they would have another shot at this with a different plan,” Mr. Musil said.
Councilmember Phyllis Edson said that while she did not have an issue sending the plan back to the Planning Commission, she did have concerns with the fact that the City lacks a plan for apartment development. “My problem is that as a City, we have had a report on how many apartments that Lee’s Summit can tolerate, and yet we don’t have a plan for that,” she said. “I think this apartment complex brings this to light, that we’re putting in an apartment complex in a place where the infrastructure, as it exists right now, really is not ready for it.”
The Councilmember said that Lakewood Way from Highway 40 and along to Woods Chapel Road has no sidewalks and or shoulders and is not in good shape. The recent report from the Lee’s Summit Fire Department was another concern in the area, which is already outside of acceptable response times, she said. “To me, we as a City need to look at putting a plan together for apartments and how we are going to build the infrastructure for those before we go and bring the apartments,” Councilmember Edson continued. “Rather than bring the apartments and, eight years later, bring the infrastructure.”
Councilmember Diane Seif said that she was concerned about the people who had shown up for a public hearing, and that the public hearing was now not going to happen. “There have been some significant changes that are very, very important to this project that are needed to be considered,” she said. She said she understood that the developer would like to move the project back to Planning Commission, but that she could not support it.
Mayor Pro-tem Rob Binney said that he thinks the project needs public input, and that going back to Planning Commission would provide that exposure. “There will be re-notification, re-advertisement, public hearings, meetings with the Planning Commission, meetings on the record where the comments and the statements made are actually on the record which has a little bit more validity than just the development meetings with the neighborhood,” he said. “I think it’s important to get all of that on the record and share that with everyone that is interested in the project.”
The Council voted 5-3 to send the application back to the Planning Commission. Councilmembers Diane Seif, Phyllis Edson, and Dave Mosby voted against the request. Mayor Pro-tem Binney and Councilmembers Trish Carlyle, Diane Forte, Fred DeMoro, and Craig Faith voted in the affirmative.