Latest apartment proposal in Shawnee sparks broader conversation about addressing homeowners’ concerns

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In talks about a proposed multi-family project up for city review, Shawnee commissioners and city staff discussed how to handle concerns from single-family homeowners who oppose apartments. File photo.

A proposed multi-family project near Johnson Drive and Woodland Drive in western Shawnee has sparked a new conversation about how to alleviate concerns of single-family homeowners while also addressing housing needs in the city.

The details: Timberland Partners proposed to build Sundance Shawnee, a new apartment project with 239 units in 18 two-story buildings on 21 acres along Johnson Drive just west of Woodland.

The site would require rezoning from residential estates to planned unit development mixed-residential.

The Shawnee Planning Commission was slated to consider a preliminary development plan and rezoning of the site on Monday.

Below is a design rendering of the project:

However, after hosting a second neighborhood meeting earlier this month, Timberland requested the city postpone discussion to April 18 to allow neighboring homeowners time to review the plan and changes the developer made from the first neighborhood meeting in January.

“We’d like to do our best to continue our communications with the neighbors, and we’ll try to have another meeting before the 18th of April… to make sure we can answer any questions they might have,” said Kevin Tubbesing, a prominent Shawnee developer who is representing Timberland on this project.

Neighbors’ concerns: Several planning commissioners asked city staff to anticipate single-family homeowners’ usual concerns with multi-family projects like these in order to be more inclusive and transparent about the process.

Single-family homeowners regularly broach the same list of concerns whenever a multi-family development is discussed.

These typically include worries over developments’ impacts on traffic congestion, effects on local home property values, crime rates, loss of natural habitat and a more general opposition to apartments.

See some of the Post’s other reporting on pushback against multi-family projects in Shawnee in recent years:

Stag’s Garden townhomes north of downtown (now going to be single-family homes)

Hidden Creek Reserve Townhomes near K-7 Highway

Willow Ridge Villas townhome project near K-7 Highway

5700 King Apartments on site of former Wonderscope museum (now going to be townhomes)

Creekside Ridge multi-family project near Mill Valley High

Lessons for future: As a result, several commissioners said they wanted single-family homeowners to walk away with a better understanding of these issues, and to feel heard by the city when raising concerns.

Additionally, some commissioners wanted more assistance from city staff on which concerns are valid in terms of becoming a potential impact on single-family neighborhoods.

“The issue that we get into is we hear this and hear this and hear this over again, and we don’t, up here, have no way of telling what’s even close to being reality,” said Commissioner Leo Nunnink. “But we’re trying to make an educated decision without really understanding what is the truth behind these statements.”

City staff and commissioners discussed hosting educational meetings about planning and development that would cover some of the topics raised by single-family homeowners.

That could be an opportunity for all to better understand how the city reviews rezoning items, multi-family projects, and potential issues like traffic congestion, commissioners said.

A recording of the meeting is on the city’s website. Discussion begins at 3:50:18.