Prairie Village planning commission approves special use permit protest process

A rendering of the “Mission Chateau” senior living community plans developers may propose for the Mission Valley Middle School site.

A method of filing a protest petition against special use permits in Prairie Village won the unanimous endorsement of the planning commission Tuesday and will head to the city council for final ratification.

The protest petition capability is being backed by opponents of a planned redevelopment of the former Mission Valley Middle School property on Mission Road. Several members of the community who have been active in opposition of plans for the site, and who live near the property, spoke at the public hearing, but it also drew support from residents who live in more distant neighborhoods. The hearing in the city hall multi-purpose room was jammed to capacity, spilling out to fill the hallway outside the room. Every meeting that has involved the reuse of the Mission Valley school has drawn large crowds.

The protest petition amendment would require a super-majority vote of the city council to approve a special use permit if the petition has been signed by land owners representing 20 percent of the property required to be notified of the special use permit. That means 10 members of the council, with the mayor included, would be required to approve the permit. The notification requirement is usually for properties within 200 feet of the area that is the subject of the permit.

The proponents of the protest petition pointed out that most cities surrounding Prairie Village have a mechanism on the books for protesting special uses. Several speakers contended it was a question of allowing citizens to participate fully in decisions. Brian Doerr told the commissioners it was a question of due process and encouraging citizens to participate in community decisions. Not having a protest petition can allow bad development, Whitney Kerr said.

The developers have indicated they will file plans for a large senior living community, which would require a special use permit. Certain special uses are allowed in zoning districts, but because of their dissimilar nature require the permit.

The developers will hold a public session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at the SM East cafeteria to introduce their plans. The planning commission has scheduled a work session on the plans for Feb. 5 at Indian Hills following the regular 7 p.m. meeting. The public hearing on the Mission Valley plans is anticipated at 7 p.m. March 5 at Indian Hills.