Prairie Village Planning Commission recommends extension for Mission Chateau start-of-construction deadline

Attorneys for the Tutera Group argued Tuesday that the appeals process in a case brought by the Mission Valley Neighbors Association would likely make it impossible for them to begin construction on the project by Jan. 6, 2016.
Attorneys for the Tutera Group argued Tuesday that the appeals process in a case brought by the Mission Valley Neighbors Association would likely make it impossible for them to begin construction on the project by Jan. 6, 2016.

Some extra time may be added to the clock that’s ticking on the Tutera Group’s ability to build its proposed $55 million Mission Chateau senior living community in Prairie Village.

On Tuesday, the Prairie Village Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend pushing the deadline for the start of construction to 14 months past the termination of legal action surrounding the project. When the Prairie Village City Council in January narrowly voted to approved the Special Use Permit required for Mission Chateau to move forward, it came with the stipulation that construction on the project must begin within 24 months of the SUP being issued, by Jan. 6, 2016. Appearing before the Planning Commission, attorneys for the Tutera Group argued that the group of homeowners who have pursued legal action against the project could essentially wait out the clock on that deadline by continuing to appeal the decision a Johnson County judge made against them in September.

The homeowners have already petitioned the Kansas Court of Appeals to review Judge Thomas Sutherland’s ruling, and if the appellate court sides with Tutera, the homeowners could request that the Kansas Supreme Court take up the case. While it’s impossible to know how long it will take for the Court of Appeals to make a decision or how long it would take the Kansas Supreme Court to decide whether or not to review the case, it wouldn’t be uncommon for that process to take two or more years.

“They have the ability to play this out probably beyond the 24 month period,” said attorney Timothy Sear. “The plaintiffs don’t appear to have any quit in them.”

Sear also told the commission that Tutera would be taking a huge risk if it were to start construction prior to the settlement of the legal action. Should the company begin construction on the project only to have a court side with the Mission Valley Neighbors, Tutera could be required to uninstall any work they’ve completed.

“There is no safety net for MVS (the legal entity that owns the Mission Valley site) if we build improvements,” Sear said. “We are looking at a $55 million senior living community. That is an awesome amount of money to be at risk.”

Andrew Spitsnogle, an attorney for Duggan, Shadwick, Doerr & Kurlbaum, LLC, which represents the Mission Valley Neighbors Association, told the commissioners that the group felt it was premature with 13 months still remaining before the deadline to offer an extension.

Tutera had initially requested a 24-month extension to mirror the amount of time that was given to them after the SUP passed, but commissioner Gregory Wolf pushed back on that time frame, arguing that much of the planning work necessary to get the project ready for engineers and contractors to prepare for construction could be carried out while the case was still with the courts. He proposed a 14-month extension as a compromise. He also noted that the city of Prairie Village would likely face another lawsuit from the Tutera Group if it failed to offer an extension.

“I think our choice is extension or more litigation,” Wolf said.

The Planning Commission’s recommendation for the 14-month extension will go before the Prairie Village City Council at its next meeting, Dec. 15. The recommendation would require a simple majority of the council for final approval.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday also unanimously approved the final plat for the Mission Chateau project.