Group working on proposed design guidelines for Prairie Village homes faces tough crowd at community meeting

Chuck Dehner asked the crowd to keep comments to five minutes each after the frequently interrupted presentation ended.
Chuck Dehner asked the crowd to keep comments to five minutes each after the frequently interrupted presentation ended.

A meeting that set out to build consensus around one of the stickiest issues facing parts of Prairie Village devolved into an exercise in calming tempers Thursday.

Approximately 75 people packed into the Prairie Village Community Center to hear the proposal of a task force that has worked on a series of overlay district design guidelines for the Prairie Village Homes Association, an area that has seen an increasing number of teardowns in the past several years. But task force leaders Chuck Dehner and Katie Trenkle had a hard time getting through their presentation amid frequent interruptions from attendees, who contested some of the assumptions the group had used to develop the guidelines and object to many of the the proposed specifics.

Bruce Wendtland, an architect who lives in the area, encouraged fellow attendees to keep an open mind and ask a lot of questions as they considered the proposal.

“I think the intent of this work and the document is good,” he said. “But there are some details in here that we might need to reconsider. So we all need to think through it and ask a lot of questions so we can get a good result.”

The community meeting was just an early step in what will be a long journey for the proposed overlay district. If the group can develop a set of guidelines that have wide consensus, they’ll need to get the signatures of 51 percent of homeowners in the overlay area. The guidelines would also need approval from the city’s administrative department, the homes association and the city attorney. After that, they’ll need approval from the city council.

“There are a lot of hurdles still in front of us,” Trenkle told the crowd before making her presentation.