by Ivan Foley
A plan for a controversial proposed development about four miles east of Platte City has been pulled off the table, but proponents are saying a similar proposal is on the way.
Lakes at Tomahawke Ridge, which first came to public light in January, called for up to 686 homes to be built along Hwy. 92 near Winan Road just west of Interurban. The item was scheduled to be heard next week by the Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission, but was withdrawn Tuesday at about noon.
Withdrawal came just a few days after developers had learned the county’s planning and zoning staff would be recommending denial of the plan. Developers of the proposed project include local realtor Tim Dougherty and majority landowners Hal and Peggy Swaney. The plan had been met with stiff opposition from neighboring property owners, who for months had organized themselves, held meetings, circulated yard signs and petitions, and retained legal counsel, including attorney Rob Willard.
Opponents said the development would create further traffic safety concerns in the area. Hwy. 92 already has issues of safety because the roadway is narrow, has bad sight lines, hills, curves and no shoulders, opponents say. Opponents also argued that the high density proposal did not fit the rural character of the area in which it was proposed to be located.
“The developer made the right decision (to withdraw) because they never adequately addressed the concerns of safety, which I think haunted and doomed this project from the beginning. Any developer that wants to come to the county with a proposal must address whether the roads are adequate and whether the plan fits with the county’s master plan. Tomahawke Ridge didn’t fit on either count,” Willard told The Landmark Tuesday afternoon.
“Hopefully if they do come back with another proposal they will start addressing these major concerns,” Willard added.
The county’s land use plan labels the area in question as rural policy, normally reserved for 10-acre lots. The proposal had sought lot widths as narrow as 55 or 60 ft.
Chris Byrd, attorney for the developer, said another plan will be submitted. Byrd said the new plan will fit the existing zoning, and that a planned unit development (PUD) that was sought in the original proposal, is off the table. The PUD would have allowed for greater flexibiliy in setbacks and allowed for narrower lots.
“The new plan will have larger lots and won’t have as much green space,” Byrd said.
Though the new plan will have larger lots, Byrd said the number of homes proposed in the new plan will be similar to the more than 600 originally proposed.
“The difference is we’re just giving up green space,” Byrd said.
Byrd said the property is already zoned RMD (residential multiple dwellings). He says in his opinion the county will not be able to deny the application for a preliminary plat sought under the existing zoning as long as the developer meets all subdivision requirements.
The county may have a different interpretation. The argument over whether approval is mandatory as long as all subdivision requirements are met is the subject of a lawsuit recently filed by another developer who was denied a preliminary plat by the county. That lawsuit, exclusively reported in last week’s Landmark, is scheduled for its first court hearing in August.
“We’re not proceeding because of that lawsuit,” Byrd said. “We can easily meet all requirements.”
Traffic safety had been a major point of contention for neighbors, who had questioned the accuracy of the numbers submitted in the developer’s traffic studies in recent months. Several revised traffic studies were eventually submitted by the developers as they tried to answer concerns raised by other entities, including the City of Kansas City, who raised concerns about sight lines along nearby Winan Road.
Even officials at Kansas City International Airport submitted an opinion on the proposed development.
“We do not consider the proposed development to be a conpatible use for land near an existing airport,” wrote Philip I. Muncy, assistant director of aviation at KCI, in a letter to the Platte County Planning and Zoning Department in March.
Daniel Erickson, director of Platte County Planning and Zoning, told the developer and the opposition group late last week that his staff would be recommending denial of the application.
Erickson on Tuesday told The Landmark county staff was set to recommend denial because of “non-conformance with the land use plan, negative impacts associated with leap frog development, and infrastructure concerns, in particular the adequacy of roads in the area.”
Erickson’s description of leap frog development is a proposal that “is generally considered development that is not adjacent to, or near, other similar development,” he said.
Kirby Holden, one of the leaders of the large group of residents who met twice a month for a time to organize opposition, was happy with the news of the withdrawal but is preparing for another battle.
“Obviously we’re happy that the developer has decided to pull it at this time. I’m sure it will be back in a different form so I hope people don’t let their guard down. I hope the developer will take traffic safety, infrastructure, and the land use plan into account as he proceeds,” Holden said.
Holden said he is under the opinion Hwy. 92 would not be able to begin to handle the traffic that this development would have caused without being widened to four lanes. Missouri Department of Transportation has indicated a widening of Hwy. 92 to four lanes in that area is not on its radar screen in the foreseeable future.
In the meantime, Holden--who started the website www.noto500homes.com in opposition to Tomahawke Ridge-- and cohorts are already preparing to go another round.
“We would like everyone to take down their yard signs for now--but save them,” he said.