PARKVILLE, Mo. — The Parkville Board of Aldermen was forced to referee a conflict between neighbors at its Tuesday, March 20 meeting.
Stating that the city would likely never turn an unpaved but platted street into a functional municipal street, director of community development Stephen Lachky presented an application for vacation of a portion of Walnut Street in downtown Parkville. Applicants David and Daniell Gile purchased several lots in the area to build a new home, but due to a nearby creek and other conditions of the terrain, the couple sought vacation of the undeveloped street to allow construction of the home.
Although the city’s planning staff recommended approval of the vacation, the board of aldermen allowed public comment due to some conflict between the existing neighbors and their potential neighbors the Giles.
Former alderman Diane Driver lives in the area, and spoke out against the vacation. She said 25 years ago she and her husband sought a variance to repair a garage and the public works director at the time suggested complete vacation of the undeveloped street near the garage. While they went through with it at the time, Driver said she wishes they hadn’t.
“Hindsight is 20/20, and I wish we’d just let that garage fall down,” Driver said.
As owner of several lots in the area, she felt the vacation of Walnut Street could devalue the properties in the area and development possibilities for the future by blocking access to some existing lots.
Property owner Arsen Kharatyan also spoke out against the vacation, and had previously supplied a letter, map and historical map from the original plat recorded in 1878.
Daniell Gile said she has been surprised at the complications and push back her family has received in attempting to purchase lots in the area to build a small house.
“We’re just trying to find a place to build a home in Parkville,” Gile said.
She said the current property owner said her father had lived in a house on the property and was also surprised that neighbors were opposed.
Alderman Marc Sportsman seemed to agree.
“I want to know how a brand-spanking-new two bedroom house could be detrimental to property values,” Sportsman asked Driver as she addressed the board.
Driver said her concern was that a house built too close to a right-of-way could prohibit full development of lots further back in the area.
Mayor Nan Johnston and alderman Dave Rittman suggested the board postpone any decision and try to work out a compromise.
“We have to remain flexible in the older part of the town because of our topography and existing structures and history, but at the same time we don’t want to prevent someone from having the full use of their property — it’s a balance,” Johnston said.
Daniell Gile said she had received conflicting stories about another property owner who was not present at the meeting, alleging that person didn’t want them to build on the property because they already utilized it for personal use.
Johnston suggested the Giles retain an attorney to try to work things out privately.
“If we make a decision, we’re either going to make all the existing property owners angry, or you’re going to have neighbors who are not happy with you — it’s a lose-lose situation,” she said.
The board voted to postpone any decision on the matter until the Tuesday, April 3 board meeting, to hopefully allow parties to cool down and discuss a compromise.