Prairie Village mayoral candidates on the issues: What does successful management of teardown-rebuild trend look like?

Jay Senter - October 15, 2018 11:00 am

The last day to register to vote for November’s elections is Tuesday — and advance voting by mail begins this week.

With Election Day fast approaching, we’ve been working to ensure Shawnee Mission area residents understand where the candidates stand on the issues facing our community.

Get Shawnee Mission Post’s latest headlines via email for FREE each weekday!

Get Shawnee Mission Post’s latest headlines via email for FREE each weekday!


A few weeks ago, we put out a call to readers for questions they’d like to hear the candidates running for a number of local offices answer. With that input, we developed five-item candidates questionnaires — and all this week we’ll be running their responses.

We’re starting off with the race for Prairie Village mayor, where the teardown-rebuild housing trend continues to be of great interest. Here’s question number one:

The most controversial issue in Prairie Village the past several years has been the trend of teardown-rebuild projects and their impact on the character of surrounding neighborhoods. What would successful management of this issue look like to you?

Eric Mikkelson

The teardown-rebuild trend is having a significant impact on many of our neighborhoods. Much of this impact has been positive as our aging housing stock gets renovated by new families investing here for the future. But there have also been abuses adversely impacting neighbors and the unique character of Prairie Village neighborhoods. With increasing property values come tough challenges to balance evolving market demands while preserving the special charm of our Prairie Village neighborhoods.

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

Along with over 80 percent of Prairie Village residents surveyed, I also support the new recently adopted “Phase Two” guidelines. Phase Two was recommended unanimously by the Planning Commission and City staff, and approved 11-2 by the Council and Mayor, after multiple public meetings. They are modeled after guidelines that have worked well in other cities including Fairway. They include a minimum percentage of green space, street tree minimums, window minimums, wall massing limits, and garage frontage maximums. These guidelines still allow our current and future neighbors much freedom to build and renovate the homes they want, using a vast array of architectural styles. They encourage investment in aging housing stock without sacrificing the character and charm of our unique neighborhoods.

My opponent repeatedly tried to weaken and kill the Phase Two guidelines by speaking and voting against them. This provides voters with a clear contrast between the candidates on this critical issue. While the Phase Two rules are not perfect and may require some refining calibrations over the years, as Mayor I will be committed to their overall success.

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, flexible guidelines such as Phase Two we will get closer to the ideal balance for Prairie Village.

To learn more about my stance on teardowns please visit my website, mikkelsonforpv.com

Serena Schermoly

I want to make it very clear to ALL residents….

I supported ALL Phase 2 guidelines — 100% FOR TEAR DOWN AND REBUILDS.

On October 1st – I made an amended motion to exclude current residents from the massing and greenspace requirements.

The reason I made this motion was to protect YOU, the residents of Prairie Village. The massing requirement will require the current residents to spend more money to invest in their homes. The greenspace requirements could inhibit residents from adding on to their home because they may have added a deck, patio or a pool in your backyard in the past. Phase 2 guidelines may require you to pick from the outdoor living area or an addition to your kitchen. I believe this is unfair and not responsible. I released a video with my thoughts on this.

My opponent and his supporters have continued to say that 83% residents supported Phase 2 guidelines. This is not TRUE. – Council Packet, See page 139 – https://www.pvkansas.com/Home/ShowDocument?id=9598

We had 3 public meetings and an online survey. During this time, we had a total 625 responses. Out of those 625 responses, 83% supported the Phase 2 guidelines. To break this down even more, of those who responded out of the 625, Ward 1 – 29%, Ward 2 – 10%, Ward 3 – 28%, Ward 4 – 10%, Ward 5 – 3%, Ward 6 – 8% and 20% unknown.

625 residents out almost 22,000 does not make 83%. Approximately 2% of the residents supported these guidelines. As your mayor, I will listen to ALL the residents of Prairie Village.

Over the last 6 months of walking door to door, I hear residents say they want the houses to fit in their neighborhoods while maintaining the Charm of Prairie Village. As your 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-sided construction and quality materials that meet or exceed the standards our residents expect. Phase 2 Guidelines have been based on those adopted in Fairway, and my perception is that this has led to builders building to an ordinance instead of quality design that enhances the neighborhood.

As mayor I believe you should set the example for your residents. Surveys of Council, Planning Commission, and my opponent’s home show that only one house from the Council, and one house from Planning Commission comply with Phase 2 Guidelines. My opponent’s home is the most egregious and began this debate before he bought. There is a reason he bought it, and it was not to spite anyone, he just wanted a house with modern amenities like many new and future residents. I’m not in the pocket of the builders, but I understand why someone who supports our charm would live in a house much larger than the original post WWII homes common in the area.

I would never ask you not to do something, that I wouldn’t do myself.

What’s important is what matters to you. Please vote for Serena Schermoly for Mayor on November 6th – Visit www.serenaschermoly.org for more information.

Tomorrow, we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to our second question:

Recently, the governing body considered a resolution that would have affirmed Prairie Village’s opposition to discrimination against women. The council will also be considering an ordinance that would grant legal protections to LGBTQ individuals in the city. Do you believe such proposals are within the purview of city government? Are they a valuable use of staff’s time? Do you support these protection measures in Prairie Village? Why or why not?

Never miss a story. Try full access today for just 99¢

You want to know what’s happening in Shawnee Mission. We make it easy. Sign up today for just 99¢ and get full access to all stories plus our premium email newsletters.

Subscribe for access to comments section