Westwood set to hold public hearing on updated comprehensive plan document next week

The Westwood neighborhood around Westwood View Elementary are likely to see a good deal of redevelopment in the coming years.
The Westwood neighborhood around Westwood View Elementary are likely to see a good deal of redevelopment in the coming years.

After months of sometimes contentious public deliberation, the Westwood Planning Commission on Monday will take up a revised version of the comprehensive plan document that will establish the types of development acceptable in different parts of the city in the coming years.

The updated document now includes an introduction to the chapter on future land use that delineates the need for a mix of land uses. Several Westwood homeowners have organized to oppose the idea of making medium-density housing more prevalent in the neighborhood east of Rainbow.

The new introduction is below:

Westwood has begun to experience development pressure as its demographics change and redevelopment activity spreads from neighboring jurisdictions. Additional pressures include the expansion of the KU Medical Center to the north of Westwood, and the City’s fiscal need to attract new retail development and businesses. However, without the ability to expand its geographic boundaries, Westwood must find both creative and responsible ways to facilitate future growth and redevelopment by balancing the mix of land uses.

Currently, Westwood’s land uses are fairly low density and low intensity. For example, commercially-zoned land represents only about 13% of the City’s total land area and single family neighborhoods represent about 60% of the area. The average single-family lot size is about 9,250 sq. ft. which equates to a residential density citywide of about 4.72 dwelling units per acre. This ranges from smaller lots that are about 4,300 sq. ft. in size, to a few lots over a half-acre in size.

The land use goals and objectives contained in this element of the Plan aim to preserve and enhance Westwood’s strong residential fabric while providing a more diverse mix of land uses to help catalyze investment, development and redevelopment in the City.

The updated draft includes an emphasis on the development on “gateway” areas along 47th Street, where heavy motor and pedestrian traffic present the city with the opportunity to create “unique and unified signage, landscaping and/or streetscape improvements to welcome travelers to the community.” The document also now stresses the “need to further enhance additional pedestrian and bicycle facilities within the city.”

Additionally, it includes a Framework Plan Map showing the areas where future non-residential development would be possible:

Westwood-Framework_Plan

Westwood has been the site of rapid redevelopment in recent years, with more big moves likely in the coming years. The Westwood Village mixed-use development has brought new high-end apartment units as well as restaurants and retail to the Belinder corridor. And the Shawnee Mission School District’s purchase of the Entercom site to make way for a new Westwood View Elementary building will pave the way for new projects on the current school site as well as the adjacent Westwood Christian Church.

The Planning Commission Public Hearing will be held Monday, June 5 at Westwood City Hall at 7 p.m. Should the Planning Commission adopt the comprehensive plan, it would be forward to the City Council for consideration.

The red-lined version of the new future land use chapter, which shows the updates from the February version of the plan, is embedded below. You can view the full version of the new plan via the city’s website here.

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