Neighbors of Homestead Estates project upset with drainage issues, bring concerns to Prairie Village Planning Commission

Neighbor SueAnn Heim objects to Homestead Estates rezoning at Prairie Village Planning Commission hearing.
Neighbor SueAnn Heim objects to Homestead Estates rezoning at Prairie Village Planning Commission hearing.

A rezoning request by the developer of the Homestead Estates project in Prairie Village has opened the floodgates to neighbors concerned about drainage problems and other issues.

Cory Childress, the developer of the luxury housing project on property once owned by the Homestead Country Club, is asking the city to allow him to build homes with setbacks allowed under previous zoning, seven-feet on each side or 14-feet total.

New zoning adopted by the city last summer increased that side setback requirement to 20 percent of the lot width, or 22 feet for the typical 110-foot wide lot at Homestead Estates. Childress bought the Homestead property in 2014 and had his site plan approved in early 2015.

Andy Bash, the Realtor working with Childress, told the Prairie Village Planning Commission Wednesday the increased setback under the new zoning is making it difficult to market the 11 lots in the development. The homes planned so far are in the 3,500- to 3,800 square-foot range.

“When we first heard of the new zoning and were told it wouldn’t apply,” he said. “This has created a lot of uncertainty. We want the seven-foot setback on each side.”

But a half-dozen neighbors attending the planning commission meeting criticized the project for what they said were serious drainage problems and its overall scale. Most live immediately north of the project on Delmar Street and their homes sit below the Homestead project.

“We feel our concerns are not being heard,” said SueAnn Heim. “We feel we were left out of the equation. We’ve lived here a long time.”

Greg Shondell said the neighbors have the support of the Indian Fields Home Owners Association.

“Our properties on Delmar are below grade and look up at the buildings,” he said. “The neighbors are opposed to this rezoning request.”

Childress did present a plan for improving drainage that included berms and swales to divert water flowing off the site. It was described as a “workable solution” by Keith Bredehoeft, city public works director.

But Nancy Wallerstein, chair of the planning commission, said the drainage problem was not the issue being considered by the commission; it was the rezoning request.

“Why are we talking about drainage?” she asked. “We’ve already approved a site plan.”

Wallerstein urged the neighbors to continue their discussion with the developer and city staff to resolve the drainage problem.

She also suggested that Childress might want to back off his rezoning request and seek a variance instead for the one house that’s under construction in his project and build the remaining houses in compliance with the new zoning setback requirement.

Continuing his rezoning quest could open his project up to a protest petition from neighbors that would require a super-majority, or nine members, of the City Council to approve the change, Wallerstein told him.

The planning commission then decided to continue the hearing on the rezoning request until January.