Despite concerns of neighbors, Prairie Village Planning Commission gives okay to Slim Chickens zoning

The State Line Road office building south of Panda Express in Prairie Village has been approved for rezoning by the Planning Commission.
The State Line Road office building south of Panda Express in Prairie Village has been approved for rezoning by the Planning Commission.

Over the objection of a handful of nearby homeowners, the Prairie Village Planning Commission on Tuesday approved a zoning change that paves the way for Slim Chickens restaurant to come to the site of a derelict office building on State Line.

If approved by the City Council later this summer, the plan would make Slim Chickens just the third fast food restaurant with a drive thru window in the city.

The Planning Commission first took up the request for the zoning change at its last meeting, but requested that the applicant address a number of issues — from traffic, noise and light pollution and the odor of frying chicken — before it voted on the matter.

While the majority of the Planning Commission members were satisfied with Block & Company’s plans to screen the property with an eight foot fence and take other measures to reduce the impact on neighboring homeowners, three area residents spoke out against the project.

David Wooldridge’s home backs up to the property, and he said he believed the new restaurant would not only diminish his quality of life, but also harm his home’s value.

“This is about a circus running around 85 feet from my master bedroom,” he told the commission.

Two commissioners agreed with Wooldridge’s concerns. Jonathan Birkel worried that the opening of a new fast food restaurant with a double-drive thru lane would have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

“[If I lived there] I don’t see this project increasing my property value,” he said. “Or see an opportunity to sell my home.”

Commissioner Randy Kronblad, who was in his last meeting with the body, agreed, and joined Birkel in voting against the project.

The commission’s 5-2 vote approving the measure came with the caveat that the business must close by 10 p.m. every night.

Block & Company’s Mitch DiCarlo said that, if the plan gets City Council approval, the owner hopes to be able to open the new restaurant in late winter or early spring of 2016.