Co. Commission approves controversial subdivision

Ruling trumps previous P&Z denials of Chapel Ridge development


The proposed Chapel Ridge subdivision near Parkville took a big step forward Monday morning when the Platte County Commission approved a request by the controversial subdivision’s developer to rezone land for the development from Agricultural and Rural Estates to Planned Residential. The rezoning approval basically paves the way for a higher density of homes on the 143-acre development just west of Parkville than its original zoning would allow and comes on the heels of a recommendation to deny the request by the County’s Planning and Zoning Commission. The subdivision has also received strong opposition from a group of landowners in the area who say Chapel Ridge is too high density and does not fit in with other development in the area. As it was for two previous hearings, a large crowd was on hand Monday for the Commission’s ruling. The Commission’s vote was split. Second District Commissioner Duane Soper recused himself from the issue in September, citing his ties with a local bank involved in the financing of the subdivision as a conflict. That left First District Commissioner Beverlee Roper and Presiding Commissioner Jason Brown to decide the fate of the proposal. Roper voted against the rezoning, while Brown voted in favor of it. Per state law, in Soper’s absence Brown’s vote carried the weight of two, allowing for a 2-1 passage. “This same proposal was submitted twice and both times it was unanimoulsy opposed by the County’s Planning and Zoning Commission,” said Tom Clinkenbeard, a spokesperson for the residents in opposition. “We are investigating, but cannot find a single time when a unanimous vote was overturned by the County Commission, let alone by one man casting two votes.” Roper said she voted against the rezoning and, by inference, the subdivision, for one simple reason. “I voted against it because I do not believe the development comports with the March 2010 Platte County Land Use Plan,” she said. Brown said he voted for the rezoning because he said it met all the requirements for approval. “I had three questions: is infrastructure there to support it, can services such as road maintenance, sewer, etc. be provided and did the proposal meet all the standards required,” he said. “The answers I got to all three questions were yes. We conducted a thorough process where all requirements were met. How then can government say no to these property owners and tell them they can’t develop their land in this fashion?” Brown said he appreciated the passion those residents in opposition have for their neighborhood. “Many times, at the County level, planning and zoning issues are heated and controversial,” he said. “This is a local issue and it has generated a lot of passion from both sides. It’s unfortunate that this issue has been framed from the beginning as win/lose.” Platte County Director of Planning and Zoning Daniel Erickson outlined the project again and — as he has done from the start — recommended approval, despite the Planning and Zoning Commission vetoing the project. Attorney Jim Bowers of White, Goss, Bowers, March, Schulte and Wisenfels represented developer Brian Mertz of PC Homes, LLC and said there would be significant improvement to roadways and the sewer and water system in the area and the single-family usage was compatible with surrounding developments. Potential roadway improvements included work to NW 76th Street, the realignment of the Highway K and 76th Street intersection, removal of a hill and the construction of a turning lane on Hwy. K north of Crooked Road and right-of-way dedication to the Highway 45 reconstruction project. Bowers said Mertz had committed to making $4 million in infrastructure improvements in the area through road work, sewer work in conjunction with the Union Chapel Elementary School sewer line project and other improvements. “This is one of the most highly-planned residential areas Platte County has seen in some time,” Bowers said. The project will be developed in 11 phases over a period of 10-12 years and will consist of 351 lots ranging in size from 7,800 to nearly 30,000 square feet in the $275-325,000 price range. “This project will not happen overnight,” Bowers said. Bowers said this project would enhance the neighborhood and infrastructure as well as provide a number of permanent and part-time construction jobs. The lot change is one of 12 conditions set forth Monday by the Commission for approval of any future plat– the number of lots is down from the previously reported 359 and the 379 in the original proposal. Brown proposed removing eight homes along the west side of the development near Countrywood Estates, with each lot generally matching the abutting Countrywood lots in size. Attorney Bill Quitmeier, who was representing the homeowners opposed to the development, said that by changing the number of lots, the proposal should have to go back before the Planning and Zoning Commission. “I think the developer can come up with a plan that’s compatible and make money,” Quitmeier said. “There is other property where they could do this high-density. That condition would be amending the plat, which would need to go back to County Planning and Zoning.”