The redevelopment of the former Sprint campus hit a momentary snag Monday night as the developer and the Overland Park City Council disagreed over the traffic impact of proposed access streets along Nall Avenue near the 207-acre site.
After an hour of discussion, the council voted unanimously not to approve the changes to access the developer wanted.
Still, Monday’s rezoning vote moves the development by Occidental Management of Wichita one step forward to reality.
Occidental is proposing to recreate the area at the northwest corner of 119th Street and Nall Avenue into a mixed use development — rebranded Aspiria — with 1.1 million square feet of new office space, 383,000 square feet of retail, 600 multi-family units and 120 hotel units.
Overland Park’s planning commission unanimously approved the rezoning last month. But the sticking point Monday was over changes Occidental officials wanted on access intersections on Nall south of 115th Street.
The developer’s engineers suggested the intersections with Nall as a way to separate commercial traffic from residential.
Greg Musil, a lawyer representing Occidental, said the company’s engineers determined that the intersections would not put an undue burden on traffic on Nall, but city planning staff disagreed.
Jack Messer, Overland Park director of planning, said Nall is already “stressed to the limit” and that the additional access had the potential to back vehicles up in right-turn lanes resulting in longer lines.
Several councilmembers said they like the development plan but were uncomfortable being asked to side with the developer’s engineers over the city’s own.
Approval of changes from the planning commission vote also requires a supermajority.
“I’m frustrated because I feel like the council is being put in the middle of a dispute between the staff and the applicant [Occidental],” said Councilmember Paul Lyons. “You’re asking the council to say the applicant’s experts know more than the staff experts. And that’s not a good position to be in.”
He urged Occidental and city staff to work out their differences ahead of future council meetings.
Councilmember Chris Newlin agreed, saying the denial of the changes to the access roads along Nall does not stop the project from moving forward.
Councilmember Scott Hamblin said he favored allowing the access points the developers say they need. Occidental officials agreed to a long list of other stipulations, he said.
However, Hamblin’s motion died for lack of a second and he eventually voted with the rest of the council to approve the rezoning without changes.