A plan to put four-plex townhomes in a western Lenexa site once approved for single-family houses got the blessing of the Lenexa Planning Commission Monday night, though some nearby residents told commissioners they feared the project could lead to an increase in traffic and crime and a devaluation of their properties.
Driving the news: Fifteen nearby residents turned out in person to the meeting, and all speakers were opposed to the preliminary and rezoning plan that would change plans for a 3.4-acre tract on the southwest corner of 83rd Street and Clare Road to townhomes.
- The neighbors also submitted a petition representing more than 100 homeowners in opposition against the plan.
- However, the petition was not considered a valid protest petition because of the distance the signers lived from the site.
Backstory: Clear Creek Landing was originally to be the fifth and final phase of a part of The Timbers at Clear Creek development.
- The preliminary plat for the tract originally called for nine single-family lots around a cul-de-sac.
- That was in 2003, and the land in question has changed ownership since then.
State of play: Now owners Clear Creek Landing LLC, and applicant Jeff Schlagel want to put up six buildings with four units in each one around the same cul-de-sac.
- The project has been described as “high-end,” but more than one objector wrote or spoke of the fear that the property would become neglected by its landlord, attract crime and lower their property values.
Key quote: “My past experience living in Shawnee for over 25 years is that multi-family homes, even though they’re high end, end up four to five years later subsidized by the government and become low-income housing which brings down our values,” said Mark Denton.
What more they’re saying: That sentiment was echoed by letter and email writers as well, some suggesting that Lenexa had more suitable spots for townhomes and that renters would not have the same commitment to the community as property owners.
- One couple who wrote a letter went so far as to say that the development would make Lenexa more like Wyandotte County or Overland Park.
- “We do not want Lenexa to turn into an Overland Park,” wrote Jen and Chris Augustine. “It’s trashy.”
What else: Some neighbors also noted that they had paid a premium price for their homes where the suburbs meet the trees and hills of rural Lenexa, and that they’d been told the land would be developed into single-family homes.
- Some mentioned an electrical substation that was recently built in the area and pleaded with the planners not to allow another such “attack” on their neighborhood.
- “We were promised a park and bike trails and instead we got an enormous substation. Now the city wants to approve multi-tenant rental units on the other side of our community. We do not deserve another attack on our neighborhood,” said Kathy Buelt during the meeting.
- The residents also said the increasing traffic load of 83rd Street and Clare Road was an ongoing concern, and noted a lack of sidewalks, and they worried that the development would mean the loss of some trees shielding them from the views of the townhomes.
Another thing: The Kansas-Nebraska Association of Seventh-day Adventists also wrote a letter to oppose the project on similar grounds as the residents.
- There is a Seventh-day Adventist Church at 24450 West 83rd Street.
Discussion: Developer Bob Youness explained that it was the increased traffic that prompted the change from single-family to fourplexes.
- If the original plan was kept, most of the single-family homes would have yards abutting the busy streets, making them difficult to sell, he said.
- The majority of the planning commissioners supported the change, saying the traffic impact would be small and that roads could be improved as growth heads to the west.
- The townhomes would be buffered by a nearby city-owned streamway and the density change is not drastic, they said.
- Commissioner Mike Burson added that intermediate density would be a smart way to zone the area because services like dentists and shops usually need more density than only single family homes.
What happens next for Lenexa townhomes plan
Commissioner Curt Katterhenry was the only no vote.
- The matter is now set to come before the full Lenexa City Council at its Dec. 6 meeting.
Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist who reports frequently for the Post and other Kansas City area publications. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.