Overland Park adopts first new comprehensive plan in 4 decades

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Overland Park has its first new long-range development visioning plan in 40 years after more than a year of studying and preparation.

On Monday, the Overland Park City Council adopted the new 160-page plan, called Framework OP. Councilmember Jeff Cox was absent from the meeting, but Mayor Curt Skoog decided to vote on the plan, making the final vote 12-0.

Councilmembers were broadly positive about the new plan — as were the many members of the committees and groups who helped develop it. Councilmember Inas Younis called it a “shared vision” for the city. (Watch the full discussion here, starting around 23:00).

“Overland Park already is a safe, desirable city and a great place to raise a family and have a business,” said Councilmember Holly Grummert, choking up a bit. “What you have given us today is a springboard for our future.”

Read the full Framework OP final draft here.

What is a comprehensive plan?

  • Local cities, counties and municipalities use comprehensive plans to forecast long-term and ideal development patterns for their community.
  • Such documents tend to mull infrastructure needs and other goals as well.
  • Comprehensive plans usually guide governmental decision-making for decades. They tend to be dynamic so they can be periodically updated through a defined revision process.
Overland Park Framework OP adoption
A little kid plays in Overland Park’s Strang Park. Photo credit Kaylie McLaughlin.

Framework OP uses character types, not land use

The new formula for forecasting ideal development and redevelopment patterns across the city focuses more on “character types” over the more traditional land use formula.

Character types emphasize what already exists in an area, what might be appropriate and other elements to create a more holistic approach to guiding any future decisions pertaining to development.

This does not take the place of the city’s current zoning regulations, nor does it eliminate the planning process associated with zoning changes. However, it does incorporate design considerations, parking availability, walkability and other variables that define areas now and could redefine them in the future.

It also lays out ideal development options — called preferred uses — and appropriate development options — called supported uses — for each character type.

Framework OP has 10 character types that it uses. They are:

  • Commercial Hubs
  • Compact Neighborhoods
  • Downtown District
  • Innovation/Flex Hubs
  • Local Activity Districts
  • Public Parks and Open Space
  • Regional Activity District
  • Rural Transition Zone
  • Suburban Neighborhood
  • Traditional Neighborhood

For example, in the Compact Neighborhood character type, different densities of housing would be the preferred uses, primarily small-lot single-family homes, townhomes, low-rise apartments or low-density condos. Additional uses in this type of neighborhood district would also include some civic and institutional uses like schools, light commercial and retail, parks and some vertically-stacked mixed-use buildings.

Additionally, in the Suburban Neighborhood character type — Overland Park’s most common character type — the most ideal uses would be single-family housing in an organized subdivision. Some other housing options that would be supported include smaller lot single-family homes and townhomes, but only as transition points to nonresidential uses in the area or major transportation hubs. Schools and other civic uses, as well as parks, would also be appropriate.

Framework OP adoption
The character type map in the new Overland Park comprehensive plan, called Framework OP. Image via Overland Park city documents.

Framework OP identifies “strategic investment” zones

  • The plan also identifies “focal points” in the northern and central areas of the city that it calls strategic investment areas.
  • Those could be areas specifically ripe for redevelopment, like those surrounding older office and commercial buildings, or undeveloped properties in otherwise built-out areas.
  • Plus, they “provide the fundamental building blocks of creating a more connected, vibrant, sustainable, and resilient community,” according to Framework OP.
  • They will likely require both city investments as well as partnerships with private industry.
  • Such areas include 79th Street and Metcalf Avenue, 103rd Street and Antioch Road, and 119th and Lamar Avenue.

Framework OP has new priorities for development

  • One of the chief priorities of Framework OP is to increase housing choices across Overland Park.
  • The plan emphasizes specifically diverse housing options that fit in with the housing stock that already exists in Overland Park.
  • The new comprehensive plan also identifies sustainable developments as a primary goal.
  • Other top goals include walkability and the protection of transition zones between different character types.
  • Some of Framework OP is also dedicated to defining new growth areas down south, which will be driven by public sanitary sewer infrastructure investments.
People celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in downtown Overland Park with the annual parade. Photo credit Kaylie McLaughlin.

Next steps:

  • Framework OP is meant to guide development decisions in the city of Overland Park for the next decade at least, possibly longer.
  • The plan comes with policy recommendations to help the city implement it and make sure its potential is fully utilized.
  • With the new plan in effect, Overland Park will start updating some of its other documents, codes and rules.
  • First on the list is likely an overhaul of the Unified Development Ordinance, or UDO, which lays out the rules for development like architectural standards.

Keep reading: Overland Park among 10 ‘Best Places to Live’ in U.S., according to new ranking

About the author

Kaylie McLaughlin
Kaylie McLaughlin

👋 Hi! I’m Kaylie McLaughlin, and I cover Overland Park and Olathe for the Johnson County Post.

I grew up in Shawnee and graduated from Mill Valley in 2017. I attended Kansas State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2021. While there, I worked for the K-State Collegian, serving as the editor-in-chief. As a student, I interned for the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT in Topeka. I also contributed to the KLC Journal and the Kansas Reflector. Before joining the Post in 2023 as a full-time reporter, I worked for the Olathe Reporter.