Mission Valley neighbors file successful protest petition against Mission Chateau

A successful protest petition filed with the city of Prairie Village has increased the requirements for approval of the Mission Chateau proposal.
A successful protest petition filed with the city of Prairie Village has increased the requirements for approval of the Mission Chateau proposal.

The Mission Valley area neighbors have spoken — and what they’ve said may prove a significant hurdle for the Tutera Group in its quest to build an approximately 350,000-square-foot senior living community on the former school site.

The city of Prairie Village on Monday confirmed that property owners in the 200-foot “buffer zone” surrounding the school had filed a valid protest petition against the project.

To be valid, the petition needed to include confirmed signatures from property owners representing more than 20 percent of the square footage in the buffer zone. The city calculates that the signatures on the petition ended up representing fully 56 percent of the area in question.

Assistant City Administrator Dennis Enslinger and City Attorney Catherine Logan told the city council on Monday that Tutera could challenge the petition and attempt to prove that it was somehow invalid — but assuming they do not, the successful petition filing triggers a supermajority threshold of 10 affirmative votes for passage of the Mission Chateau project at the council level.

This means that, of the 13 members of the Prairie Village governing body (the 12 council members plus the mayor), four would need to vote against the project or abstain in order for the proposal not to pass.

Ryan Fischer of the Tutera Group said the company was not surprised by the results of the petition.

“It would be highly unusual for a group of neighbors to hire an attorney to first propose a moratorium on special use permits, then have him propose new regulations affecting special use permits, and then not vote for their own new ordinance,” he said. “For many of the others who voted in favor of the new ordinance, requiring more votes, that does not mean they oppose the plan or have studied the plan’s benefits to them, just that they agree with requiring more votes for any decision.”

Logan spent several minutes on Monday walking the councilors through the procedure and regulations surrounding the upcoming Mission Chateau vote, which is set for the Sept. 3 Prairie Village City Council meeting to be held at Village Presbyterian Church. She noted that “which ever way the decision goes, there may be [a legal] appeal.”

Logan also reminded the councilors that state law prevents them from casting their vote on Mission Chateau only considering the opinions of the neighbors, and instead requires them to consider a variety of factors, including the recommendation of the Planning Commission that the project be approved.

“Legally, you cannot make a final determination solely based on the opinion of the neighboring property owners,” she said.