by Ivan Foley
That’s the word this week from the Platte County Planning and Zoning staff in regard to an application for a preliminary plat that would allow a 655-home development at Hwy. 92 and Winan Road about four miles east of Platte City.
The high-density development, which would be known as Lake at Tomahawke Ridge, is being proposed on just over 300 acres of property primarily owned by Hal and Peggy Swaney. Tim Dougherty, a real estate agent in Platte City, would be one of the lead developers on the project.
Daniel Erickson, planning and zoning director, revealed in a staff meeting with county commissioners on Tuesday that he will recommend against approval of the developers’ request.
“I’ll be recommending denial for several reasons that will be outlined in my report,” Erickson told the commissioners Tuesday morning. By Tuesday at 5 p.m., his report was ready.
Erickson described the developers’ proposal as “virtually the same” as the one the developers decided to drop in June after hearing planning and zoning staff would recommend denial. That earlier proposal asked for a special zoning overlay that would have allowed greater flexibility in lot width and setback requirements.
The latest proposal seeks to use the existing zoning. The number of homes proposed has not dropped significantly, going from around 686 the first time to 655 in the new plan. The first proposal was recommended for denial based on several factors that have not changed with the new proposal, such as “non-conformance with the land use plan, negative impacts associated with leap frog development, and infrastructure concerns, in particular the inadequacy of roads in the area.”
Erickson’s description of leap frog development is generally “development that is not adjacent to, or near, other similar development.”
Under the newer proposal, only approval of a preliminary plat is needed. Erickson said the Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission decides the issue, as the proposal would only be forwarded to the county commission if the decision of planning and zoning commission is appealed.
Though Chris Byrd, an attorney for the developers, has argued in the media that an application for a preliminary plat cannot be turned down as long as the developer meets a checklist of requirements, Erickson and county officials say there is more to it than that.
Byrd could not be reached for reaction to the news that denial will again be recommended for Tomahawke. His office said he was on vacation and a voice mail left on his cell phone had not been returned as of Landmark press time.
In his report this time around, Erickson’s reasons for denial are basically the same. He said the development would conflict with existing rural and agricultural uses surrounding the property, in addition to the inadequacy of roads to handle the significant increase in traffic the development would bring to an area already considered a traffic hazard by neighbors.
In his report outlining the recommendation for denial, Erickson goes into detail to explain the leeway that the planning and zoning commission is allowed in decisions to deny a preliminary plat application, obviously building the county’s defense to Byrd’s public claims.
“Provisions outline a framework for taking into consideration the adequacy of infrastructure as it relates to a preliminary plat request,” Erickson says.
The Tomahawke proposal falls short of addressing infrastructure concerns, in the eyes of the planning and zoning staff.
“Staff’s concern is how this development impacts the future of Hwy. 92. According to the traffic study, adding this development to the projected background growth will cause this segment to exceed the 7,500 (vehicles per day) threshold, thus making the planned upgrade of this segment from two to three lanes insufficient based on the criteria outlined in the study. Based on the funding issue at MoDOT, it is reasonable to expect this segment of road will not be upgraded in the near future, thereby creating a situation that necessitates a four lane road only being served by a two lane road.”
Concerns over the impact the development would have on traffic volume heading south on N. Winan Road also are addressed by Erickson in his report.
Much of N. Winan is City of Kansas City responsibility. Kansas City officials report there are sight distance problems along N. Winan and recommended that approval of the project should have a condition to improve those sight distance concerns. The developer has not agreed to fix those sight distance problems, Erickson said. The City of Kansas City has no immediate plans to improve that segment of N. Winan, either, Erickson notes.
In the conclusion to his detailed report, Erickson says denial is the recommendation because of four factors:
1. The preliminary plat does not conform to the requirements of the Platte County subdivision regulations.
2. The plat does not conform to the goals and policies outlined in the Platte County Future Land Use Plan.
3. The development is “leap frog” and thus out of character with the surrounding area.
4. The development will have a negative effect on the public.
The Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission will hear the Tomahawke application Tuesday, Aug. 12, 7 p.m. at the county administration building.