With unanimous vote, PV planning commission moves Mission Valley neighbors’ cause forward

Attorney John Duggan spoke on behalf of the Mission Valley Neighbors Association, encouraging the Planning Commission to keep the site's preferred uses listed as R-1A.

Keep it R-1A, said the neighbors.

Okay, said the commissioners.

With a unanimous vote on Tuesday before a full house at Friendship Hall in Village Presbyterian Church, the Prairie Village Planning Commission approved a resolution officially establishing R-1A zoning uses — which include housing, schools and churches — as the city’s preference for the development of Mission Valley Middle School.

The move was a boon to the dozens of Mission Valley Neighbors Association members who attended the meeting, and who delivered a refrain of “Keep it R-1A” during a public hearing before the vote.

It was a blow to MVS, LLC, the company that owns the site and is comprised of principals Dan Lowe of RED Development and Joe Tutera of the Tutera Group. They had submitted a letter to the planning commission prior to Tuesday’s vote asking the commissioners to insert language that would have provided some wiggle room as to the types of development that the city would consider.

But after Charles Miller, an attorney representing MVS, LLC, presented his case to the commission, city planning consultant Ron Williamson told the commissioners city staff would not recommend adopting MVS’s proposed changes.

“It is critical, if anything is done on the site, that it be compatible with single family residences,” Williamson said.

Though the Mission Valley amendment to the city’s comprehensive plan – which must now be approved by the city council — doesn’t officially guarantee that the site will be developed in a residential manner, it throws a series of significant hurdles in front of any developer looking to pursue a mixed use project there. The developer would have to petition to have the city’s comprehensive plan amended to allow for mixed use development at Mission Valley — a much more onerous process than submitting plans for approval, which is challenging in and of itself.

“Whatever goes there, the density will have to be higher than it is now to make the economics work,” Williamson said during the public hearing. “But we know people do not wish to see the open space or the character of the area significantly changed.”

Charles Miller lobbied to include language in the amendment that would have made it easier for the developer to submit a mixed-use proposal.