Mar. 16, 2019

Mallory Herrmann

An overlay district near the recently redesigned interchange between 291 and 50 Highway is causing frustration among developers.

The community and economic development committee heard from a few business owners (and prospective business owners) who are seeking relief from the standards applied to the EnVision LS area. City staff said at the Mar. 13 meeting that they’d recently received proposals for uses that are restricted by the overlay, including a thrift store, a car wash, car detailing and a call center.

Designed to promote mixed-use development to create a gateway to downtown, the overlay was approved in 2017. Since the interchange reopened last May, developers have had a tough time taking advantage of the reinvigorated area.

A representative for Pinetree Plaza, which sits in the northwest corner, says they’ve hit a bottleneck in filling their remaining vacancies. After a multi-million-dollar facelift and new tenants, they have had difficulty finding new tenants who fit not only the available space and market in Lee’s Summit, but co-tenancy requirements and the approved uses. They’re seeking to be released from the LS Gateway area, the designation for the property.

The area southwest of the interchange is designated as LS Mixed Uses Area, where one Lee’s Summit resident is interested in opening a new car wash. The property in question is an existing car wash, which would generally only require an administrative application. With the overlay, however, that’s no longer an acceptable use in that location.

After hearing from four speakers, the committee thanked them for the feedback and for being part of this discussion. The committee clarified that they would not be considering individual projects or exceptions at this time, but just wanted to consider general feedback about the overlay.

“We definitely need to be open to listening that kind of stuff,” Councilmember Craig Faith said, noting that it’s hard to see the potential repercussions when plans like this are approved and that it’s not “one size fits all.”

City staff will take the feedback from the discussion and propose modifications for the committee’s consideration at their April meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Beto Lopez, Councilmember Fred DeMoro and Donnie Funk of the planning commission were also present for the discussion. Councilmember Diane Forte left the meeting early.