Public hearing brings advocates on both sides of Mission Chateau project

Joe Tutera closed out a presentation to the Planning Commission in support of his company’s proposed Mission Chateau senior living project.

A carefully crafted and aesthetically delightful “country club for seniors” that will allow aging Prairie Village residents to stay in the city they call home.

A haphazardly conceived, overbearing monstrosity for which there is questionable demand and that will suck millions of dollars of home value from the surrounding neighborhood.

Those were the opposing views of the proposed “Mission Chateau” senior living community presented to the Prairie Village Planning Commission Tuesday in a lengthy and inconclusive public hearing.

An estimated 300 people packed the Village Presbyterian auditorium and waited through the commission’s deliberations on four prior agenda items before the Mission Chateau discussion began roughly an hour and a half after the meeting’s 7 p.m. start. Then a group of presenters representing the Tutera Group, led by Polsinelli attorney John Petersen, went into a lengthy overview of the proposed senior living community, highlighting what it characterized as first-rate architecture and construction materials as well as the project’s impacts on traffic and stormwater.

It wasn’t until around 9:30 p.m. that members of the public were able to begin making their statements. Commission chair Ken Vaughn asked that proponents of the project speak first, and a total of 12 — the vast majority of whom were seniors who said they thought the project would offer them an attractive housing option — made comments.

Representatives of the Mission Valley Neighbors Association began making their case to the commissioners around 10 p.m. Led by attorney John Duggan, the group focused on the density of the project, noting that it would be the second largest senior housing community in the entire county, and that no private development in the city is as densely constructed or as large.

Two former Prairie Village City Councilors were among those who made comments Tuesday – and on opposing sides of the issue.

Marcia Jacobs told the commissioners she remembered the difficulty the council had in approving the Claridge Court senior living project during her council tenure.

“It’s hard to stand on a vacant ground and image what’s going to be there,” she said, noting that while she understood the hesitancy of the opponents, she thought Mission Chateau was “a good thing for the city.”

But Jacobs remarks didn’t attract nearly the response from the audience as those of former PV councilor Steve Carmen, who delivered an at times fiery set of remarks at the close of the evening. Carmen, whose house backs up to the Mission Valley site, said he had hired a private appraiser to estimate the impact Mission Chateau would have on his home value. The report, he said, suggested his home would lose between $50,000 and $75,000 of its value.

“I chose to make my biggest investment in Prairie Village real estate,” he said. “And $50,000 to $75,000 is going to be taken out of my pocket because someone else’s dream requires development on property where it doesn’t belong.”

The Planning Commission suspended the hearing around 11:15 p.m. and accepted a motion to continue it at its June 4 meeting, when the rest of the MVNA speakers and opponents of the project will resume giving their remarks. The Planning Commission is expected to vote on the project June 4. Should the Planning Commission approve the project, it would need to go before the Prairie Village city council for a final vote in July.

A view of half the room at the Mission Chateau hearing at Village Presbyterian Tuesday.