by Alan McArthur
A decision by the Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission to deny the preliminary plat for the Lake at Tomahawke Ridge was upheld by the Platte County Commission with a vote of 2-1.
On Thursday, the commission heard an appeal by the developers of the proposed neighborhood east of Platte City at the intersection of 92 Highway and Winan Road. Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight and Jim Plunkett, second district commissioner, voted to uphold the planning and zoning commission's decision. Tom Pryor, first district commissioner voted to approve the preliminary plat.
The development would have placed 655 homes on approximately 300 acres of property north of 92 Highway and east of Winan Road. The development was proposed by Tim Dougherty, local developer, and Hal Swaney, the majority property owner.
Christopher Byrd, attorney for the developer, said his clients plan to file a lawsuit against the county in circuit court within 30 days after the ruling on Thursday.
“It was the vote we expected,” said Byrd. “We expected it to be 2-1.”
Majority property owner Hal Swaney said he was not happy with the commission's decision.
Swaney said that during the land use plan meetings, the farmers lost out to the urban votes on how the county should develop.
“The time for development has arrived, it took 30 years but it is happening,” said Swaney.
Swaney said the main issue brought up is about the roads.
“In Nate's (Baldwin, county engineer) opinion it's not enough, well MoDOT runs the show,” said Swaney, citing the Missouri Department of Transportation's (MoDOT) approval of the project. “We in Platte County have a different set of guidelines.”
“If we had the land use plan 40 years ago we wouldn't have allowed Red Rock or Timber Creek,” said Swaney.
Swaney also addressed the issue brought up about part of the land being in a flood plain. Swaney said there are homes below his property that are obviously in the flood plain.
“That farm is in the Noah flood plain. The farm is at the top of the water shed,” said Swaney.
Swaney said that now that he knows the commission wants to protect the farmland, he might begin raising animals, such as pigs, on the land.
“We're not finished yet in this county,” said Swaney. “Obviously we're disappointed in the inability of the county to look at what we want to do in a positive light.”
Pryor said he thinks the property is an excellent place to develop. Pryor also said he thought the planning and zoning staff put too much emphasis on the distance of the development from Platte City.
“I thought too much emphasis was placed on the distance from development,” said Pryor. “We do not typically worry about roads two miles away. We have a real problem in the county with the lack of desire to let developers risk their money. I'd prefer that rather than have the government intervene.”
Pryor said he also thinks too much weight is put on the county's land use plan.
During the meeting, Daniel Erickson, director of planning and zoning, said that county staff had recommended denial of the proposal because the preliminary plat does not conform to the subdivision regulations in regard to the road network, the project does not conform to the land use plan, it is leap frog development, and it would have a negative impact on the public.
Erickson also said the staff had not approved an acceptable submission of the development's traffic impact study.
Nate Baldwin, county engineer, cited three concerns with the traffic study. He cited “the low existing traffic volumes used in the study,” “the lack of a capacity analysis of Route 92 west of the development”, and “the state of N. Winan Road south of Route 92.”
Baldwin explained that the number of vehicles counted on 92 Highway in the traffic study conducted by Olsson Associates, was 4,031 and that in 2007 MoDOT had conducted a study that counted 4,812 between I-29 and B Highway.
In a memo to the commissioners by Baldwin, he states, “The traffic from the development will cause a significant increase in the volume of traffic on Route 92. The (traffic study) indicates that the development will generate 2,344 (vehicles per day) on Route 92 west of the development. This will increase traffic on Route 92 by 49 percent.”
In the conclusion he states, “In light of the inadequacy of the (traffic study) submitted by the developer in addressing the adequacy of the public roadway network serving the subdivision, particularly with regard to the use of low existing traffic volume data and the lack of a capacity analysis of Route 92 west of the proposed development, the (traffic study) has failed to demonstrate that the proposed development is in compliance with the requirements of the Platte County Subdivision Regulations of 1992.”
A number of residents spoke to the commission regarding the development.
Kirby Holden pointed out that there were already 2,600 empty lots in unincorporated Platte County and that the ReMax website alone lists 65 homes for sale in the Platte City area.
Joe Morris questioned whether the development would really have the kind of impact the developer says it will have for the community, in regards to the financial impact numbers provided by the developer.
“It's not just a few neighbors that think it's a detriment, also the staff and (planning and zoning) commission,” said Morris.
Knight explained why the land use plan is needed before the final vote.
“A lot of people had comments and a lot of effort and money was put into it,” said Knight. “I know it talks about the rural character and farmers wanted to be protected. We only use it as a guide, we've always said it was a guide.”
As of Tuesday, Byrd had not filed a lawsuit against the county in circuit court.