Changed boundaries, council makeup will factor into outcome of new Mission Chateau proposal

An overhead view of the new Mission Chateau proposal, with lots for single family housing along the south edge of the site.
An overhead view of the new Mission Chateau proposal, with lots for single family housing along the south edge of the site.

The Prairie Village Planning Commission’s vote on Tuesday to recommend approval for the Tutera Group’s Mission Chateau senior living community will set in motion a chain of events familiar to anyone who followed the the original proposal this fall.

But changes from the original proposal as well as alterations in the makeup of the Prairie Village city council could impact the fate of Tutera’s latest gambit.

Though representatives of the Mission Valley Neighbors Association declined to comment on whether a new protest petition was already circulating, chances are opponents of the proposal will be hitting the street trying to gather enough signatures to trigger a supermajority requirement for approval of the project at the City Council level. Last time, the opponents easily collected enough signatures to represent the owners of 20 percent of the land within 200 feet of the development site. Tutera’s move to change the lines of the proposed development so as to eliminate eight homes along the south edge of the property from protest eligibility makes the success of the petition far from a sure thing.

Of the six council members who voted against Tutera in September, one (David Morrison) is no longer on the council, and another (Michael Kelly) has been absent from council meetings since October and plans to step down from his seat in February. Based on the way the protest petition ordinance is worded, however, Morrison and Kelly’s absence from the council would likely have little impact on the final outcome if a protest petition by the neighbors collected enough signatures to require a supermajority.

With a valid protest petition filed, the Tutera Group would still need 10 affirmative votes for the Mission Chateau application to move forward — regardless of how many councilors are seated or present. As such, Kelly’s and Morrison’s absence from the council would essentially serve as two votes against Tutera — just like Kelly and Morrison voted in September.

Basically: If the neighbors can collect enough signatures to file a valid protest petition, Tutera’s odds of getting council approval for the new proposal look to be pretty long.

If the protest petition fails, however, things get interesting.

Without the supermajority provision in place, the Special Use Permit application would require seven affirmative votes at the council level to pass — precisely how many the first proposal garnered. Mayor Ron Shaffer has indicated that he intends to put in a replacement for Morrison before the end of the year, meaning the new councilor would be seated for the Mission Chateau vote. Should that new councilor vote in favor of the proposal –- and assuming the other councilors vote the same way the did the first time — the proposal would pass without requiring a tie breaking vote from Shaffer.

But since Kelly’s absence would essentially count as a vote against the proposal, should the new councilor vote against the proposal, Shaffer, who is seeking a move from the mayor’s office to the County Commission, would be called upon to cast the deciding vote.