Lenexa council approves storage facility proposal opposed by some neighboring residents

Leah Wankum - September 18, 2019 2:55 pm
Lenexa resident Tad Pritchett said a storage facility does not fit the character of their neighborhood.

After more than three hours of discussion and public comment from neighboring residents in opposition, Lenexa city leaders on Tuesday voted to approve plans for a storage facility near the Falcon Valley Golf Course and surrounding homes.

The proposed site plan for Stortropolis, a self-service storage facility, includes three buildings and a total of 609 storage units on about 5 acres on the southeast corner of West 102nd Street and Cherry Lane. The project area lies among single-family homes, a golf course, an apartment complex and some commercial property, including a Price Chopper grocery store. K-10 Highway lies to the south of the site.

The project site is located on the southeast corner of West 102nd Street and Cherry Lane.

Dozens of residents from the neighboring single-family subdivisions who live around the golf course site just north of the project area filled the council chambers Tuesday night, some wearing stickers that read “Stop Stortropolis.”

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About a dozen residents, including multiple individuals representing homeowners association, spoke against the project location, saying the storage facility does not belong near a residential area.

Neighbors presented a few arguments at the council meeting and in roughly 90 letters of complaint addressed to city leaders, raising the following concerns about the project:

  • Lighting from the storage facility spilling onto their properties at night
  • Increased traffic from storage facility users
  • Increased risk of crime, such as users storing illegal material
  • Possible decrease in property values of surrounding homes
A rendering of the proposed facility.

“I don’t understand why nobody else is putting these in residential areas and we have to do that, we have to suffer through this,” said Tad Pritchett, whose home is north of the project area. “This is an industrial style complex. And to me, it looks like an Eastern bloc manufacturing facility that does not fit the character of the neighborhood, nor the zoning and use of the property nearby.”

City staff said any increase in traffic from the storage facility would be less than if the site had developed into an office building. A proposed project on the site in 2000 had contemplated a 4-story, 62,500 square foot office building, which staff said would have generated five times the amount of traffic the storage facility would generate.

Curtis Petersen, an attorney from Polsinelli representing Stortropolis for the project, said they expect to shut off lights on the property after 10 p.m. to reduce the risk of light pollution on the neighborhood. None of the lights are designed to shine outward but rather downward for security purposes, he said, adding that the storage buildings lie on a hillside, so the three-story and two-story buildings would appear to be two-story and one-story, respectively, when viewed from the north.

Petersen added that the site is one of the last in the surrounding area that remains undeveloped.

Curtis Petersen, an attorney from Polsinelli representing Stortropolis, said they will work with city staff and residents to reduce the impact of the facility on the neighborhood.

“This is a tough, tough site to develop,” he said.

The storage buildings lie on a hillside, so the three-story structure would appear to be two-story when viewed from the north, Petersen said, adding that they will tweak the final plans based on feedback from residents.

Councilmembers Joe Karlin and Bill Nicks voted against allowing a special use permit as well as preliminary plans for the storage facility. Both said they think the facility does not fit in with the character of the neighborhood.

“Frankly this storage facility is not good for Lenexa in this location,” Nicks said. “This use belongs in industrial or a business park, not in a retail, office and residential area. We don’t have to hurry to accept 600 storage units on this piece of vacant property. We can wait on something more appropriate that fits this area.”

Several councilmembers in support of the project said they wanted to approve the final development plan before construction begins.

“I do believe that this plan does fit at this stage and character of what is around it to the north and the west,” Hunt said. “It’s a good fit for where it’s at in Lenexa and it’s a buffer to residential. That’s my view. I agree with staff: This project will not adversely affect adjacent properties.”

City staff said the city considers feedback from neighboring property owners but state and federal courts have determined in past cases that neighborhood feedback should not be the only factor when a city reviews project plans.

The governing body voted 7-0 to approve rezoning the site from Planned Community Commercial and Planned General Office to be completely Planned General Office, which puts the project area on one uniformly zoned site.

The governing body voted 5-2 to approve both a special use permit and preliminary plans for Stortropolis.

Councilmember Tom Nolte recused himself from discussion and voting, citing a conflict of interest. Councilmember Andy Huckaba was absent.

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