Prairie Village mayoral candidates on the issues: Managing ‘fit’ of new homes into existing PV neighborhoods

Jay Senter - July 16, 2018 9:19 am

Vote-by-mail ballots will begin hitting mailboxes in the coming days. Advance voting in person starts a week from today. And election day itself is Tuesday, August 7.

With residents’ opportunities to cast their ballots in the summer primaries just around the corner, we’ll be taking a look this week at candidates positions on the issues.

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Prairie Village residents will be voting in a primary for mayor, with two of the three candidates seeking office set to advance to the general election in November. Based on reader input, we developed a five-item questionnaire for the candidates, and will be running responses to one item a day this week

Here’s today’s question:

A majority of residents say they are concerned about the teardown-rebuild trend and the impact it’s having on neighborhoods. Should the city be taking additional steps to ensure new homes “fit” the neighborhoods where they are built? Should the city being looking at ways to reduce disruption to neighbors from new home construction?

Eric Mikkelson

We should do more to proactively address teardowns to preserve the character of our neighborhoods. The teardown-rebuild trend is having a significant impact. With increasing property values come tough challenges to balance evolving market demands with preserving the unique and special charm of our Prairie Village community.

As a City Council Member I worked on and voted for the first set of guidelines (“Phase One”), enacted to restrict the size of homes that can be built on lots in Prairie Village. I participated in all of the City’s public meetings to get feedback from the residents on those Phase One changes.

But we should do more. I also support the new proposed “Phase Two” restrictions currently being reviewed by the public this month, including minimum percentage of green space on lots, street tree requirements, window minimums, wall massing limits, and garage maximums. Phase Two will still allow our future neighbors much freedom to build the homes they want, and encourage investment and renovation of aging housing stock, but without sacrificing the character of our unique neighborhoods. Similar reasonable restrictions have worked well for years in many of our neighboring cities.

Not every neighborhood in Prairie Village is the same. Homes that fit well in certain areas would be out of place in others. There are risks in going too far with restrictions. But there are also risks in not doing enough. With reasonable adjustments such as these we can find the right balance and preserve the character of our neighborhoods.

The City should also take additional steps to mitigate construction site noise and disruption. These steps should include amending our ordinance to provide firm start and stop times, communicating the rules better by posting and otherwise, and enforcing the rules (not only on noise but also on trash, vehicles, impact on adjacent yards, etc.). The City should add periodic site visits (at times unknown in advance by the builder) by City enforcement officers in areas of concern. We also should add more teeth to our laws to effectively punish repeat offenders, and use them when circumstances warrant.

As my campaign volunteers and I have been walking door-to-door throughout Prairie Village, knocking on almost 2,500 doors so far, I have seen and heard these valid concerns time and again. It is time for the City to act before it is too late.

Serena Schermoly

Yes, we need to ensure the new homes “fit”.

I am supportive of keeping our Prairie Village charm. As our aging housing is replaced, it is important that new homes maintain the charm of our community. The city currently is in Phase 2 of public participation for residential guidelines. The City Council reduced the building heights and elevations, extended side setbacks, as part of Phase 1 in 2016.

As mayor I will support the creation of an architectural review board. We need to make sure this board keeps the Prairie Village charm by ensuring homes are built with four side construction and quality materials that meet or exceed the standards our residents expect. We need to continue to address drainage to protect surrounding neighbors from runoff water.

In 2018, our current permits in Prairie Village are 27% Roof, 25% Fence, 19% Remodel, 8% Building Additions, 8% New Home/Duplex (6% if your remove Meadowbrook), 5% Demolition, 4% Shed and 4% Decks. I support reducing disruptions in our neighborhoods during construction.

I do not support restricting, changing, or adding an ordinance for residents who may want to work on their own home, fence, deck or remodel. As Mayor I would support limiting work hours for contractors that perform construction services, traffic measures, educating contractors, posted signs with work hours and phone number residents could call to complain.

We also need to look at the entire permitting process from start to final inspection to ensure we are doing everything possible to allow construction to be completed as quickly as possible. I also support a web-based program where residents could check on their progress. This software could streamline the process between public works, building permits, inspectors, and contractors, while keeping the neighborhood residents informed.

We need to clarify our codes and look at the procedure used to go forward. Such process must balance growth along with being a community that attracts new residents while maintaining what makes our city charming in the first place.

Prairie Village is bursting with undeniable potential. It’s going to take careful listening, creative thinking, and the acknowledgement of our shared values and our hopes for the future to ensure that our city maintains its special “Prairie Village Charm” while embracing the new voices joining our neighborhoods.

What’s important is what matters to you. Please vote for Serena Schermoly for Mayor on August 7. Please visit www.serenaschermoly.org for more information.

Andrew Wang

The city should be investigating additional guidelines concerning new residential construction and the impact on adjacent and nearby homes. The Neighborhood Design Open Houses (held July 7, 11 and there’s still one remaining on July 17) were an excellent opportunity to bring together citizens and local planning and design professionals.  Compilation of the feedback from these meetings will be a guide point for the next steps.

With regard to neighborhood disruption, the city — through current, and possibly additional, codes — should be considering ways to ensure that the inconvenience visited upon our neighborhoods by renewal and renovation is tolerable and temporary. Maintaining clear walking paths and sidewalks, regulating construction noise, carefully designing temporary and permanent drainage are examples of measures that need further consideration.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item two:

What’s your view of the role of a mayor in a city like Prairie Village? Should the top elected official be setting a bold vision for the city? Primarily minding spending? Focusing on some other priority?

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