Roeland Park approves comprehensive plan without Ward 4 councilmembers’ support

Although the Roeland Park City Council approved Moving Forward Roeland Park 2040, Ward 4 Councilmembers Michael Rebne (pictured) and Jim Kelly both expressed their opposition to the document.

The Roeland Park City Council has approved its comprehensive plan, which lays out the city’s future to 2040, but support wasn’t unanimous.

Roeland Park Moving Forward 2040 addresses residential and universal design standards as the teardown-rebuild trend in northeast Johnson County continues, but Ward 4 Councilmember Michael Rebne said the plan doesn’t include enough about affordable housing.

Rebne said he doesn’t support the vision laid forth in the document. Fellow Ward 4 Councilmember Jim Kelly expressed similar sentiments, and both ended up voting against it.

Ward 4 Councilmember Jim Kelly said he agreed with his fellow ward mate Councilmember Michael Rebne. Both voted in opposition to the comprehensive plan — and said it doesn’t do enough for affordable housing. File photo.

“I think this flies in the face of affordable housing for our community, and as Councilmember Rebne mentioned, everybody I talked to in Ward 4 would be really shocked if we passed this,” Kelly said.

Kelly suggested the comprehensive plan be tabled for further study.

The residential design standards portion of the plan states the standards’ goal is to allow redevelopment in “a way that maintains and enhances Roeland Park’s character and quality.” It outlines a set of recommendations to apply bulk regulations, architectural design and driveway standards.

Bulk regulations recommendations include the addition of lot merger regulations, so as to prohibit buildings being constructed over or across a property line unless approved by certain standards. Those standards, according to the city’s long-term plan, would include ensuring the new lot width is not 50% larger than the average lot width of properties within 200 feet.

Aside from teardown-rebuild trend design standards, Moving Forward Roeland Park 2040 has nine goals that fall within the categories of growth and development, parks and recreation, housing, connectivity and mobility, and natural resources and environment. Below are the specific goals as outlined in city documents:

The approved comprehensive plan ties in residential design standards, which are intended to address the city’s teardown-rebuild trend and could, in the future, limit developments like this one along Buena Vista Street, which merged multiple lots. Photo credit Juliana Garcia.
  • Protect Roeland Park residents though thoughtful land use decisions
  • Strengthen and improve the city’s image through civic and commercial spaces
  • Foster and promote mixed-use development
  • Support sustainable development and growth
  • Encourage housing diversity options while preserving the city’s existing neighborhood housing
  • Provide high level of service for parks and recreation
  • Maintain infrastructure to support long-term resiliency and community growth
  • Preserve and conserve ecologically sensitive land
  • Support sustainability efforts and promote best environmental practices

The city council approved Roeland Park Moving Forward 2040 in a 5 to 2 vote, with Councilmembers Kelly and Rebne voting in opposition. Councilmember Claudia McCormack was absent.