Setback for Brookridge developer as Overland Park council denies rezoning request

The latest plans for the Brookridge development call for a retail center that would have a grocery store. Some residents have raised concerns about prolonged construction disruption from that portion of the project.

A plan to turn the Brookridge golf course into a multi-use shopping, office and residential area was put on a one-month hold Monday night after Overland Park City Council members expressed concern over the latest changes in the proposal.

The council voted down the rezoning of the area 7-4 after several members said they had reservations about changes in the street construction phasing. Those and other changes were expected to primarily affect neighbors in the 103rd Street and Antioch Road area.

The existing Brookridge clubhouse. Developers have been pursing a massive project on the golf course site for four years now.

Council members agreed to continue the discussion to the June 18 meeting so developer Chris Curtin can work with city staff to make the plan more acceptable. Curtin and lawyer John Petersen asked for the continuance, rather than a remand to the planning commission that would have taken two months.

Grant Curtin, an associate with the Curtin Property Company and Overland Park resident, said the development will be back. The extra time, “is definitely not killing it,” he said. “We do live here and we are not going to make the easy decision to just go home.”

The decision was the latest in the four-year saga of a $1.8 billion development that has been staunchly opposed by neighbors.

Neighbors of the 140-acre development have opposed it since the beginning, regularly attending council meetings to speak against it. About 20 showed up for Monday’s meeting, occasionally breaking into applause when points were made against it.

“This has gone to the point from being ridiculous to now asinine,” said Bob Miller, who lives nearby.

Most of the discussion Monday focused corner of the development where 103rd Street and Antioch Road intersect. The area is just across the street from the Wycliff neighborhood, and some residents of that area said that a new phased timeline on the street construction could make problems getting to their neighborhood stretch longer than two years. Of particular concern was a temporary traffic signal at 104th Street and Antioch.

Miller said that intersection would likely become a cut-through into his neighborhood for drivers frustrated by traffic congestion at 103rd and Antioch.

“It’s going to be extremely dangerous for the Wycliff residents. And believe me if someone gets hurt there’s going to be a great deal of answers having to come from the city council for approving this,” Miller said.

“The people who have been trying to sell this project live in Leawood. Leawood wouldn’t approve a project of this magnitude, and yet Overland Park is being asked to,” he continued. “And in doing so all you are doing is turning Overland Park into Leawood’s dumping ground.”

Others worried that the backs of some stores would be facing major streets, and that the route into a proposed small grocery store for the development is too convoluted – an “inconvenient convenience store,” as neighbor Mark Hunter put it.

Council members expressed the most doubts over the phased timeline for street improvements. The street work to handle traffic from shoppers, apartment dwellers and office workers should be done all at once to minimize the harm to existing neighborhoods, they said.

Others, however, said the plan isn’t perfect, but the city would still gain street improvements to Antioch made by the developer, even if only part of Brookridge ever gets built. The city would save money by not having to pay for those improvements, said councilmember Richard Collins.

Petersen said the phasing keeps the developer from having to pay for bigger streets long before they’re actually needed.

City staff had recommended denial of the rezoning as a policy matter, because some of the improvements would be made before the developer owned all the property along Antioch Road. Petersen said the developer has gradually bought seven homes and will buy more. But progress has been slow because developers are trying to work with the neighbors.

“We haven’t given up because two elderly people don’t want to leave their home yet. Shame on us for not putting pressure,” on them to move the project forward, said an obviously frustrated Petersen.

Any changes from what the planning commission approved will require a nine-vote majority to pass at the next council meeting. Voting with the majority against the rezoning Monday night were councilmembers Logan Heley, John Thompson, Jim Kite, Fred Spears, Faris Farassati, Terry Happer Scheier and Gina Burke. Councilmember Dave White was absent.

Petersen said the developer has worked hard to meet all of the city’s requirements but was unsure how the developer would pay for all of the street work at once. “We want to build a project and we’re trying not to waste your time. We’re in the real world. We’re talking about millions of dollars of commitment to get started and get going,” he said.

“We’re not giving up. We haven’t given up in four years,” Petersen said.

One of Curtin’s original concept drawings for the Brookridge mixed-use development.