After pushback from neighbors, Lenexa council rejects Vistas at Canyon Creek apartment project

A rendering from Clockwork Architects of the Vistas at Canyon Creek apartment project.

A group of homeowners living near a proposed apartment complex in western Lenexa gathered nearly 200 petition signatures and sent a flurry of emails to City Council members in opposition to the project, and many showed up in force at Tuesday’s council meeting.

In the end, the council unanimously rejected the project.

The Vistas at Canyon Creek, proposed for the northwest corner of Canyon Creek Boulevard and Kansas Highway 10, would have required rezoning for the construction of 294 apartments in 12 buildings and a convenience store with gasoline pumps.

A view of the pool and pool house that had been part of the plans.

At its July 17 meeting, the council remanded the proposal to the Lenexa Planning Commission, requiring the developer to submit a new design. The planning commission and city staff later recommended that the council approve the project.

Kristin Kippes, a homeowner who lives near the proposed project, addressed the council Tuesday and expressed her and other nearby homeowners’ opposition to the project, including their belief that their property values would decrease and what she called “emotional concerns.”

“Is rezoning the right, the ethical thing to do?” Kippes said. “That’s where we would say no. When we decided to build our forever home, we very meticulously evaluated south Overland Park, Cedar Creek and Canyon Creek. We knew this house was going to be the house that we were going to bring our babies home from the hospital to…This is where we’re going to raise our children, where we were going to see them off to college, where we’re going to grow old. … If you had to build in Canyon Creek, you would not vote for this. And if you wouldn’t do it yourself, you should not vote to do it to us.”

Designer says plans intended to blend in with neighborhood

An overhead rendering showing the proposed integration with the surrounding areas.

Jon Waynick with Clockwork Architecture + Design of Kansas City, Mo., addressed the council and said the project had been redesigned “to better blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.”

“We have had many conversations with neighbors, and the silent majority… actually have no opposition to this development,” Waynick said. “The petition was signed by about 40 percent of the neighbors.”

Waynick:

  • Questioned the assertion that another apartment complex would decrease nearby property values by pointing out that the area already had The Mansions apartment complex
  • Countered safety concerns about increased traffic by saying that Canyon Creek Boulevard had been designed to handle about 20,000 cars a day but now has about 3,000 and that apartment residents wouldn’t drive through the neighborhood but would use that road instead
  • And said the project would have more buffering with natural landscaping than other properties in the area.

According to a study by city staff presented to the Committee of the Whole on Sept. 11, rental properties constitute about 37 percent of Lenexa’s housing, compared with 37 percent in Overland Park, 29 percent in Olathe, 27 percent in Shawnee, 29 percent in Johnson County and 36 percent in the United States.

Ward 2 Councilman Tom Nolte said the apartment proposal was “out of context.”

“I appreciate all the citizens that have come out tonight (and) all those emails,” Nolte said, “not just from Lenexa residents, but I’m getting emails from Olathe residents that live in Cedar Creek. … They have fought long and hard to preserve what they feel is quality of life and a unique environment in this western part of Lenexa and Olathe. … I think this (area) is probably some of the best Lenexa has to offer.”

Ward 2 Councilman Bill Nicks called Lenexa “the best town in Kansas” and said the city didn’t “have to rush to change zoning.”