Prairie Village looking into city-wide ordinance with design guidelines for teardown-rebuild projects

An under-construction teardown/rebuilt project on 73rd Terrace in Prairie Village.
An under-construction teardown-rebuild project on 73rd Terrace in Prairie Village.

The work of a volunteer group of Prairie Village Homes Association residents to develop design guidelines for teardown-rebuild home projects in the area has been put on hold as the city of Prairie Village is working to develop a new building ordinance that would apply to homes across the city.

The shift from the homes association committee to a city approach occurred earlier this summer, when Mayor Laura Wassmer and city administrators took a look at the draft proposal the group had developed after several contentious public meetings.

“After discussion with city leaders we realized the ‘over building’ of lots was just not limited to one area,” said Assistant City Administrator Wes Jordan. “An internal committee mainly spirited by our City Planner is working towards a draft copy of building considerations to mitigate size and scale to be more what Prairie Village is accustomed to while being mindful of changing needs and demographics in our community.”

The city’s new planning firm, Gould Evans, is using the overlay district guidelines approved for the Countryside East neighborhood as well as existing city-wide ordinances in Fairway and Leawood as guidance in the development of a proposal that will go before the city council for consideration. Gould Evans had initially planned on presenting a first draft of the guidelines to the council at its Sept. 8 meeting, but asked for an extension. Jordan said he believes the proposal could be presented to the council at one of its October meetings, depending on the outcome of a meeting the city’s internal task force will hold on the issue Wednesday.

Katie Trenkle, the PVHA homeowner who served as a leader on the group developing the overlay guidelines for the homes association, said her group welcomed the city’s decision to take a city-wide approach.

“I think it’s a really, really good thing,” she said. “They are looking at a blanket ordinance that will be based on the size of the lot and the size of the houses. They want to come up with something that’s enforceable. There was a thought that if this is city-driven, the likelihood that there is council and planning commission buy in will be better.”

Trenkle, who oversaw a teardown-rebuild project for her own family, hasn’t seen a draft of the city’s proposal yet, but said it’s important for Prairie Village to get some guidelines in place as applications to build new homes on existing lots increase each year in the city.

“We’re the only community in the area that doesn’t have an ordinance protecting against overbuilding,” she said.

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