As teardown-rebuild trend picks up, Roeland Park council focuses on construction, design issues

Northeast Johnson County has seen a wave of teardown-rebuild project over the past five years.

By Holly Cook

With the teardown-rebuild wave in northeast Johnson County sparking a wave of projects in the city, Roeland Park is taking a closer look at regulations on home construction on design.

The Roeland Park city council was briefed Monday on current policies for redevelopment by the city’s building official John Jacobson. The policy review request was motivated by recent redevelopment trends in Roeland Park and its neighboring communities.

Nine new houses were permitted in Roeland Park in 2017, with 35 remodels that same year. In 2016 three new builds were permitted, according to city staff.

“People are reinvesting in this community,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson’s review focused on stormwater runoff, asbestos abatement, quality of building materials, and maintaining the aesthetic of Roeland Park neighborhoods.

Newly constructed homes generally cover a larger percentage of the lot and this could cause issues with water runoff, he said. However, these concerns are usually mitigated by construction grading soil to direct runoff toward the street and sometimes developments can even improve water runoff conditions, Jacobson said.

Roeland Park does not currently have a code requiring a grading study for developments so the city will ask for a study on a case-by-case basis.

The city also does not require asbestos abatement for residential demolition or remodels, which is not unusual, and establishing this requirement could hinder the current redevelopment trend, he said.

Jacobson pointed out that asbestos remediation on a $100,000 project could cost $30,000.
In lieu of formal requirements Jacobson suggested that city staff encourage residents to follow federal asbestos removal guidelines and visit the KDHE website at the time of their permit issuance.

Jacobson said the issue of ensuring new builds and remodels complement the aesthetic of neighboring homes was a tricky one.

“I can’t come up with a singular line of thought that would say this is Roeland Park,” Jacobson said. “In my opinion I think the diversity of Roeland Park is part of its charm.”

If he had to name three common aesthetics among Roeland Park homes Jacobson said he would choose shake singles, a stone component, and horizontal lap siding.

Jacobson said one way to ensure continuity would be to create an architectural review board, as Mission Hills and Westwood Hills have. But these boards slow the development process and are subjective, Jacobson warned the council.

Jacobson also discussed rules regarding certain property features like gates and fences around pools, and sports courts. This point was addressed because the additional square footage added during remodels or in new builds can cause homes to be in closer proximity to their neighbors.

Currently there are few code requirements for pools and other water features and Jacobson suggested the city consider requiring a minimum 6-foot privacy fence with a lockable gate.

Jacobson did not recommend making any changes to the development guidelines at this time, and suggested the city council work in concert with the Planning Commission for future updates to policy.

The council generally agreed with this suggestion and noted planning to overhaul regulations was already budgeted for 2019.

Jacobson’s presentation is below:

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