Lenexa council postpones vote on proposed Sikh gurdwara over neighbors’ design concerns

The Lenexa council said it wanted to revisit the proposed Midwest Sikh Gurdwara plans in June. Rendering credit Shukla & Associates.

Plans for a new, $4.5 million Sikh temple in Lenexa were put on hold based on concerns about the project’s design expressed by some Lenexa City Council members and residents at the council’s Tuesday meeting.

The Midwest Sikh Gurdwara is proposed for the northeast corner of 101st Street and Lone Elm Road. The two-story building would contain about 24,750 square feet. The second floor would hold the main worship hall with capacity for 326 seats at roughly 11,000 square feet. The first floor would contain an additional 13,750 square feet for a kitchen, dining hall, classrooms and conference rooms, said Pradeep Shukla, an architect and planner with Shukla & Associates in Leawood and the project’s architect.

Golden domes, like the ones on this gurdwara in Delhi, are a fixture of Sikh architecture throughout the world. Photo credit Hari Singh.

The building’s exterior would comprise precast concrete panels and brick, and three ornamental, golden domes in Sikh-style architecture would sit atop the building. The building’s parking lot would have 125 spaces.

The building would be built on 12 acres, part of a 42-acre lot purchased two-and-a-half years ago by the Midwest Sikh Association, Shukla said. The association plans to eventually sell lots to build single-family homes on the remaining 30 acres in the same price range as existing, surrounding homes.

The Lenexa Planning Commission recommended approval of the project at its April 2 meeting, and city staff also have recommended approval. The council, however, voted unanimously at its Tuesday night meeting to revisit the proposed project at its June 19 meeting.

Several council members — including Ward 2 Councilman Thomas Nolte, who is an architect — and several residents at the Tuesday council meeting expressed concerns including the proposed building’s orientation relative to surrounding roads, possible negative effects on traffic in the area, design compatibility with surrounding residential neighborhoods and possible negative effects on surrounding property values.

“I have some serious concerns about how this building got to this spot,” Nolte said. “All these concerns can be fixed…But I do think we need more dialogue.”

Ward 2 Councilman Bill Nicks said he had recently spoken with about 30 residents about the project at one of his regular discussion sessions, and had received a few dozen emails and some phone calls about the project.

“I think we should give the neighborhood and the applicant that time to work together so they can thrive together in a friendly, non-adversarial way with this project,” Nicks said.

One resident, David Pulford, expressed displeasure at the Tuesday council meeting because he and other residents had no opportunity to voice their concerns at the April 2 planning commission meeting. No public hearing is required for the project because it doesn’t involve a special use permit request, said Mayor Michael Boehm.

Shukla said he plans to hold a meeting with residents in the first week of June “and clarify all their concerns and get back on track.”

He said he had received a letter from the city April 5 saying some residents had concerns about the project, and that he had sent a letter to three homeowners associations on April 7 asking to meet but hadn’t heard back from them.

“We are very positive about this project,” he said, adding that residents had expressed valid concerns at Tuesday’s council meeting, “but they are minor clarifications only. We want everybody to be happy.”

An elevation drawing of the proposed gurdwara.