Retail project in Parkville moves forward despite objections

PARKVILLE, Mo. — The Parkville Planning and Zoning Commission approved the preliminary development plan for the Apex Plaza commercial development off Highway 45 and Melody Lane, despite recent protests from nearby residents.

At the Tuesday, May 9 planning and zoning commission meeting held at Parkville City Hall, the commissioners approved the plan with only one dissenting vote, from member Barbara Wassmer. Vice chair Keith Cary and member Shane Smeed were absent. 

The development plan went before the Parkville Board of Aldermen for approval at its Tuesday, May 16 meeting and received approval.

Parkville Heights and Pine Crest neighborhood residents turned up in numbers last week in opposition of both Apex Plaza and an apartment development plan scheduled for later in the meeting.

The bulk of the Apex Plaza property — about six acres — was rezoned from residential to commercial use in 2002, but since then, various development plans have come and gone. Last month, the commission approved a rezoning order for just over a half-acre right off Melody Lane to be added to the larger development. 

The Parkville Board of Aldermen gave the rezoning order preliminary approval earlier in the month before giving final approval this week. 

Residents spoke out at the board’s first meeting of the month regarding the rezoning proposal, and the Apex Plaza development as a whole. Primary concerns included increased traffic and safety concerns, decreased property values and loss of residential character. 

Some of those same residents spoke again at the planning and zoning meeting, reiterating concerns, especially about a planned entry point onto Melody Lane, which serves as the main entrance into the subdivision.

The development plan, submitted by CBC Real Estate, consists of four retail buildings, varying in size from 15,000 to 4,000 square feet. Two are set aside as possible restaurants with one of those expected to be a fast food restaurant. The site includes 211 parking spaces and three points of access, two onto Hwy. 45 and one onto Melody Lane.

John Davis, representing CBC, said the developers were willing to place a median in the Melody Lane access to further restrict traffic patterns to right-turns only. The current plan allows right turns from southbound Melody Lane into the development and right turns from the development back onto Melody. 

“You can make the best efforts you can with traffic control, but if people are going to make an illegal movement, then they’re going to do it,” Davis said. “We’ve done our best to try to address concerns.”

Davis argued the turn-in from Melody would offer convenience primarily to the residents of Parkville Heights, allowing them to avoid the steep intersection with Hwy. 45 if they desired.

Residents didn’t find this a pleasing option, and several openly mocked the traffic study presented by Parkville director of community development Stephen Lachky. 

“That traffic study is a joke,” said 38-year Parkville Heights resident Harry Sievers, directing members of the planning and zoning commission to drive Melody Lane at all hours of the day and night to observe the traffic. “You should have pride in Parkville, and I’m not sure you do. You want to turn 45 into another North Oak Trafficway.”

Planning and zoning commission chair Dean Katerndahl took issue with Sievers’ statements.
“We try to do the best we can for Parkville, but we won’t always agree what that is,” Karerndahl said. 

Parkville alderman Doug Wylie, who himself is a Parkville Heights resident and cast the sole dissenting vote against the rezoning order last week, also spoke. He told the commissioners that he felt Lachky’s recitation of other commercial areas abutting residential developments — both inside and outside of Parkville — were irrelevant to the situation.

“Parkville Heights has been there for 50 years and is located on an established, unimproved residential street,” Wylie said. “To have this kind of traffic coming onto Melody Lane does set a precedent.”

He argued at the board meeting last week that allowing access to Melody would open the door for other commercial encroachment on residential areas. 

As an alternative, Wylie suggested reconfiguring the development plan to create a third exit to the west. There is an existing private road to the west of the development, but it leads to the Parkville Public Works facility.

Parkville director of public works Alysen Abel said she believed it would be difficult to make that work due to elevation problems.

“I doubt that would be viable, and even if it was, it would be expensive,” Davis said.

Before approval, the commission did impose multiple conditions, including a requirement that architectural and landscaping plans come back before the planning and zoning commission for approval. Truck and delivery traffic would be prohibited from using Melody Lane, and the developer must complete a stormwater management study.

The commission heard another controversial rezoning request and site plan at the meeting for an apartment complex just across from Parkville Commons near the Pine Crest subdivision. The 46-unit Lake Pointe Lodge, located on Highway 9, east of Clark Avenue, is another planned development that has come before the board before in various past incarnations. 

In 2015, the developer proposed a four-story 50-unit apartment complex. The application was denied.

The new plans reduce the height of the building to three stories, with 46 units. It includes a pool, carports, landscaping and monument signage.