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Neighbors oppose
housing development
Chapel Ridge would
have 379 lots

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

A proposed residential development called Chapel Ridge at Hwy. 45 and Union Chapel Road in Platte County outside of Parkville has drawn the ire of some local residents.

The county's planning and zoning commission will consider whether to recommend rezoning of the properties and whether to approve the preliminary plat for the development on Tuesday, Aug.13 at 6 p.m.

A county staff report with a recommendation to the planning and zoning commission was unavailable by deadline.

The proposed development by Brian Mertz covers 143 acres and is slated to consist of 379 lots.

The plans show two pools, two clubhouses, three pocket parks, and several fishing ponds. The average lot price will be between $50,000 and $60,000 with expected home prices starting at $300,000.

The planning and zoning commission will make a recommendation to the county commission on whether to approve the proposal. Final say on the matter belongs to the county commission.

A preliminary meeting between the developer and residents was held on July 29 at South Platte Baptist Church. The meeting was said to be standing room only and a number of people expressed objections to the development.

Those opposed to the project have created a Facebook page and started an online petition. As of Wednesday morning the petition has 144 signatures and the Facebook page has 58 likes.

Several complaints about the proposal have been expressed by local residents. Following is a summary of some concerns.

Zoning Concerns
Tom Clinkenbeard, a representative of the opposition, said the zoning being requested is out of character to the surrounding properties and that the development would be leapfrogging other properties.

“It's a total deviation from the adjoining properties,” said Clinkenbeard.

He said it would be 4 to 6 zoning categories below many adjoining properties.

Mertz is requesting to have the properties rezoned to R-7 Single-Family High Density by the commission. Many of the surrounding properties are zoned as R-80 Rural Single Family.

The R-7 designation allows for a home density of one to four homes per acre. According to Mertz, his development will have a density of 2.59 homes per acre which falls in the middle of the allowance.

Mertz cited several newer neighborhoods in the vicinity, including Thousand Oaks, Hidden Valley, and Wildwood as developments with similar lot sizes.

According to Mertz, the Countrywood neighborhood would not be allowed to be constructed today because it has no curbs along the streets and no sewer system.

Lot Sizes
Another complaint is that the proposed lot sizes and home prices do not conform to surrounding developments.

“(Chapel Ridge) runs contrary to the development trend along 45 Highway,” said Clinkenbeard. “To insert a high density single family development threatens the progress that has been made.”

Clinkenbeard said that the group wants to support a development that will attract people who own and run businesses.

Mertz said he expects the homes built in the neighborhood will begin at $300,000 and go up.

Two homes are currently listed by Re/Max in the Countrywood neighborhood. One home along 73rd Street is listed for $389,900 and notes the property is 2.26 acres. The second home along 74th Street is listed for $324,900 on 1.92 acres.

According to the Thousand Oaks website, homes in the neighborhood range from $300,000 to $700,000. The cheapest home listed in the neighborhood is along 68th Street for $304,865 and the county lists the property at 0.37 acres. The most expensive home listed is for $460,675 on 61st Street and the county shows the lot as 0.4 acres.

Several people on the Facebook page and petition have expressed concerns about increased traffic in the area.

Mertz believes he will be able to address these concerns with improvements along portions of Union Chapel Road and 76th Street. The improvements on Union Chapel include lowering a hill under the road by eight to ten feet to improve the line of sight and by adding a left turn lane into the development.

Along 76th Street there are two road connections. Mertz said they will design them so residents are forced to turn right from the development toward Union Chapel Road. Some neighbors had expressed concerns about traffic turning left and going through the Countrywood neighborhood to get to 45 Highway.

Mertz has also proposed to realign the intersection of 76th and Union Chapel Road to make it a “T” instead of the current curved intersection.

Land Use
There is also a complaint about the proposal in regards to the county's land use plan which was revised in March 2010.

According to the plan, the area where the development will be constructed is shown for single-family residential. The description from the plan says, “Single-family residential areas are intended to help serve growing population needs while promoting efficient and compatible growth. Development types within these areas are limited to single-family detached homes. Residential densities within these areas are intended to be between 1-4 dwelling units per acre.”

The plan also shows the neighborhood of Countrywood to the west and area to the north as large-lot residential abutting the proposed site.

Mertz said he has taken the concerns of the neighbors along the west edge of the property and merged some lots together to make the ones connecting to Countrywood properties in the southwest portion of the development larger.

In addition Mertz said he will require a 35-foot buffer area along the western edge of the property to retain trees between the development and Countrywood.

He is also going to construct a six foot tall berm with six foot tall trees on top along 76th Street. There will be a three foot tall berm with six foot trees along 45 Highway and a three foot berm with a fence and six foot tall trees along Union Chapel Road. Mertz said they will use non-deciduous or pine trees to maintain the buffer even during winter.

Public Costs
Clinkenbeard said the development may increase tax revenues but would also increase costs to the county.

To avoid added costs to the county, Mertz said all of the setback and park areas in the development will be retained by the homeowners association so the county's parks department will not have to maintain them.

Mertz said the development will even decrease some costs for residents along a sewer line being constructed from Union Chapel Elementary near Crooked Road. As more properties in the development are connected to the line, the cost of the construction per home connected will decrease.

There will be no request for any tax breaks involved with the development either, according to Mertz. None of the property taxes will be diverted.

Mertz has been involved in other developments in Platte County, including Brookfield and Fox Creek, both south of Platte City. He said he used to be a developer, but became a contractor at the beginning of the recession and now wants to get back into developing properties.

With the changes and adaptations to the proposal Mertz thinks he has addressed many of the concerns from the neighbors.

“I feel like I've heard people and will do what I reasonably can to be a good neighbor,” he said.

Mertz, who lives about a mile east of the site, said it's disheartening to have his neighbors and people he goes to church with so opposed to the development.

“This is my career and my money on the line.”