The Prairie Village Planning Commission Tuesday approved Mission Chateau senior living community’s application for a Special Use Permit needed to build its project on the former Mission Valley School site. The commissioners also approved a site plan for the project.
Only Commissioner Gregory Wolf voted against Mission Chateau on both the site plan and the use permit. All of the other commissioners — Nancy Vennard, Randy Kronblad, Ken Vaughn, Nancy Wallerstein and Bob Lindeblad — voted in favor of the project. One seat is vacant on the board.
Next up is the city council vote, which is expected to take place Sept. 3. The Mission Valley neighbors who have opposed the project now have two weeks to gather signatures for a protest petition. If successful, it will force a three-fourths vote of the city council to approve the Special Use Permit and allow the project to move forward.
Tuesday’s public hearing and deliberation lasted more than four hours with the vote on the Special Use Permit finally coming at 11:15 p.m. and the site plan approval 15 minutes later. The public hearing closed at 10 p.m. Many in the large crowd — most of whom opposed the project — at Village Presbyterian Church hung on to the end to hear the vote.
Prior to the vote, the city staff plan consultant Ron Williamson told the commission that the staff report supported the plan. Williamson said it met all of the criteria for approval and walked the commissioners through the staff analysis of size, density, traffic, greenspace loss, parking, drainage and setbacks that had been points of contention from the Mission Valley Neighbors Association (MVNA)
Earlier, Joe Tutera, whose company is developing Mission Chateau, reiterated several changes that had been made to the plans to satisfy the planning commission concerns. Among those was a reduction in total size, additional transition space to the largest building on the property and reduced roof heights.
“I am pretty pleased with the revisions that were made,” Lindeblad said. Vennard also said she felt the issue of the size of the building had been addressed by the developer’s changes. The neighbors were asking for quite a reduction, Kronblad said, and the “developer has done a good job of buffering the south side (against the single family houses) and I believe the project has improved immensely from the first go round.”
“I’m just not comfortable with the size and the opposition I am hearing,” Wolf said, in explaining his vote. John Duggan, representing MVNA, made a presentation that focused extensively on the size of the project, drawing comparisons to other developments for the number of square feet per acre. Duggan argued the development should be on 40 or 50 acres, not the 18 at the Mission Valley site. Nine other residents spoke against the project. Williamson said the planning staff looks at units per acre for its density and the project fell well within the acceptable range.
Another MVNA objection was the loss of greenspace, but Williamson said 9.78 acres will be open space after it is built and that any project would cost greenspace. Tutera also pledged to allow public access to walking trails and park areas in the development.
The estimated construction time between two and three years also caused some concern for Wallerstein.