Baseball complex gets preliminary pass in Parkville

A protest petition has been organized in the wake of the Parkville Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval last week of a portion of the Creekside development plans at Interstate 435 and Highway 45.

After a six and a half hour meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9, the commission approved the Meadows and Creekside and Old Town at Creekside to move forward to the Parkville Board of Aldermen for consideration.

The morning of Wednesday, Oct. 10, Citizens for a Better Parkville announced it requested the criteria from the city to file a formal protest petition. The group worked over the weekend to secure signatures and expects to turn in the petition this week. The protest petition requires the board of aldermen to approve the rezoning/development plans by a two-thirds instead of simple majority.

About a dozen residents spoke out in front of a full audience at the Oct. 9 meeting. In sometimes emotional testimony, people cited concerns about density, proliferation of crime in areas with apartments and hotels and loss of the small-town atmosphere Parkville is known for.

At an approximately three hour meeting held Oct. 10, which continued the Oct. 9 agenda, the planning and zoning commission discussed commercial and industrial development plans, including a controversial baseball complex, with a smaller audience.

The commission unanimously approved zoning map amendments and preliminary development plans for the Woods at Creekside, Creekside Village and Creekside Commons. The Woods and Village are single-family home and townhouse developments. Commons includes six turf baseball fields, hotels and restaurants as well as a new cemetery and has also drawn community concern.

Developer Brian Mertz has said the baseball complex would be a privately-operated enterprise attracting competitive league play. Audience members have skeptical of this claim, citing a city-commissioned study on a possible soccer complex. At the time, the study found a soccer complex would not be feasible, leading citizens to wonder what changed and why a baseball complex would be more successful.

The Creekside Industrial component was withdrawn by the developer, pending further clarification of the development plan and connected rezoning applications. The new plan could come before the commission as soon as the Tuesday, Nov. 13 regular meeting.

The hotly-contested plans have drawn criticism from area residents both inside the Parkville city limits and in unincorporated Platte County. In September, a nearly four-hour meeting of the planning and zoning commission was continued until this month due to public feedback. 

Just hours before the Sept. 9 meeting, Citizens for a Better Parkville — which formed early this month as an ongoing political action committee — issued a letter from attorney Andrew Alexander.

The letter alleges a conflict of interest for Parkville mayor Nan Johnston, who received a $500 political donation in 2016 from the developer’s attorney Patricia Jensen.

The letter also suggests the board of aldermen violated the Missouri Sunshine Law by holding unposted closed meetings.

In the letter, Alexander asked the commission delay its consideration of the development plans until these concerns could be addressed. Chair Dean Katerndahl opened the meeting with a statement from the commission that while the city had received the letter, the commission would move forward with its meeting as planned.

The group has suggested Johnston recuse herself from any upcoming board of aldermen consideration of the development projects.