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Prairie Village planning commission sends zoning code updates to city council

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The Prairie Village City Council will soon consider a series of zoning code updates born of the controversial housing recommendations that have divided the community for the past two years.

Last week, the Prairie Village Planning Commission unanimously recommended sending the changes to the city council for final consideration. This comes after a tense May meeting, where public comments became hostile at times and the planning commission tabled action.

Deputy City Administrator Nickie Lee said consideration of adopting the planning commission’s recommended code updates is likely to be on the city council’s July 1 agenda.

More than 100 residents sent input to the planning commission ahead of the June 4 meeting, asking the commissioners to preserve citizen rights when it comes to rezoning, among other requests.

The changes impact all districts other than single-family neighborhoods, which were the original point of concern for the residents opposed to the housing recommendations.

Planning commission crowd May 2024
Attendees at the Prairie Village Planning Commission meeting in May 2024. File photo.

A look at the updates

  • The updates to the zoning code largely put development standards for R-2, R-3, R-4, C-O, C-1, C-2, MXD (mixed-use) and planned districts in tables and clarify what the city wants to see in each district.
  • It also allows for residential uses in all commercial districts, limiting such uses to either the upper levels of buildings or on the ground levels behind commercial uses.
  • City planner Chris Brewster of Gould Evans told the planning commission that these updates should yield no immediate physical changes to commercial districts.
  • The mixed-use district, which requires a rezoning application, allows for four-story or 50-foot buildings.
  • Currently, there are no height restrictions in the mixed-use district, according to city documents.

A full view of the proposed zoning code updates can be found in the document below, starting on page 18. Commissioner Jim Breneman recommended several non-substantive changes to the proposed updates — which the planning commission accepted — that are not included in the document.

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Residents asked for specific height, setback restrictions

The feedback residents sent the city via email — which was included in the June 4 planning commission agenda packet — asked for some specific items, including the following:

  • A height restriction setting three-stories and 40-foot as the maximum for buildings.
  • A minimum setback of 30-feet and a minimum of 30% dedicated to greenspace.
  • Maintaining or preserving citizen rights on rezoning applications, including notifying those who live within 200 feet of the subject property.

City staff also noted a fifth key point of resident feedback: Removing residential from commercial properties.

Brewster told the planning commission that most of the resident concerns largely appear in either the mixed-use or planned zoning districts.

Both the mixed-use and planned zoning districts require developers to submit a rezoning application, which triggers a notification to neighbors and approvals from the planning commission and city council.

As for the concerns about maintaining and preserving citizen rights, Brewster said nothing with the rezoning process has changed because it is governed by state statute.

“We have not considered any rezoning through this process and we haven’t changed any of the city’s procedures,” Brewster said.

Watch the entire conversation online here, starting at 40:49.

Commissioners see no substantial changes with proposed updates

  • Commissioner James Kersten said he was originally concerned about the setbacks proposed for the mixed-use and planned districts, which could result in inappropriate building heights for the city.
  • Kersten said he was comforted by the existing standards and setbacks, as well as the thorough rezoning application process.
  • Commissioner Jeffrey Valentino said he’s comfortable with the changes, especially considering the commercial districts will remain largely, physically unchanged.
  • “Reality is that most likely you’re going to have to look at [mixed-use] or planned districts, which again, no matter what standard we set, triggers a complete review, a complete evaluation outside of any of these guidelines or starting positions,” Valentino said.

Next steps:

  • The city council will consider approval of the zoning code updates.

Keep reading: Prairie Village’s housing recommendations have split the city — How did we get here?

About the author

Juliana Garcia
Juliana Garcia

👋 Hi! I’m Juliana Garcia, and I cover Prairie Village and northeast Johnson County for the Johnson County Post.

I grew up in Roeland Park and graduated from Shawnee Mission North before going on to the University of Kansas, where I wrote for the University Daily Kansan and earned my bachelor’s degree in  journalism. Prior to joining the Post in 2019, I worked as an intern at the Kansas City Business Journal.

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