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Neighbors oppose Apex Plaza plan
Project proposed across from Parkville Price Chopper

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

More than 14 years after preliminary approval was given for the Apex Plaza in Parkville, new developers have presented an expanded development plan.

The Apex Plaza sits on the north side of Hwy. 45 near the Bell Road intersection and is now being backed by Carr Baier Crandall Real Estate Group (CBC). Some residents in the nearby Parkville Heights neighborhood oppose the development because it has a proposed driveway connecting to Melody Lane.

Parkville's Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday night recommended approval of the rezoning for the properties but decided not to take action on a proposed preliminary development plan. The zoning recommendation will go before the city's board of aldermen on Tuesday, May 2 for final approval and the preliminary plan will come back before the planning commission as early as Tuesday, May 9.

The site across from the Price Chopper in Parkville consists of three properties that were already zoned for business uses, but the developers also sought to purchase and rezone two additional residential lots along Melody Lane to include in the development.

Some of the normally required documents were not available for the commission to review before the meeting.

According to John Davis, principal with Foresight Real Estate Services, there were delays with the traffic study because there were some questions about the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) approval of the entrances to the development. The developer also has not completed landscape or signage plans yet because some of the tenants are not confirmed.

City planning commissioners also requested that the developers provide cross section plans to show how the development will look from the adjacent properties. They also requested that the developers meet with the neighborhood homeowners association to find solutions to their concerns.

Some of the neighbors in the Parkville Heights community and who live on Melody Lane spoke during the public hearing.

One of the main points of contention for many residents is that the development plans calls for an entrance from Melody Lane.

Sandra Ferguson, former Parkville municipal judge, said she was opposed to the plan because it would put more traffic onto the narrow road and could increase the chances of an accident where children get on school buses.

In a letter to the planning commission, Ferguson wrote that the city needs sales tax revenue but “it should not be on the backs of the residents who have worked to make this a city to be proud (of).”

“This is another attempt to discriminate against Parkville Heights Development and the adjacent residences. No other development in the city has this constant issue. Parkville turned down such a plan for the Riss Lake entrance on 45 Hwy.”

Harry Sievers, resident, said that in previous plans the developers were willing to work with the community and he hopes these developers are willing to listen. Sievers said that a previous plan called for a bank and they were going to put up a wall to minimize headlights shining on homes in the neighborhood.

Karen Maag, resident, said that when she lies in bed at night the lights from the Price Chopper sign shine in her windows and asked how much worse it would be with a development much closer.

Another resident, Steven Youngblood, spoke before the commission and also sent a letter beforehand. Youngblood owns one of the homes on the other side of Melody Lane from the proposed development.

Youngblood said he purchased the home two years ago with the understanding that there would be a residential buffer between his property and the commercial development.

In his letter to the commissioners, Youngblood said he had contacted two real estate specialists in the area. Both said it would have a negative effect on his property. One of them specifically said his home value could be reduced by 15 to 25 percent, which could be up to $50,000.

“What price will residents along Melody Lane have to pay to reduce congestion in Apex?” asked Youngblood.

The city's master plan specifically shows the two residential properties remaining zoned residential and Youngblood said he saw that as agreement with property owners that commercial development would not occur across the street.

Douglas Wylie, aldermen, even spoke before the commission as a resident in the neighborhood.

He said that a request for a business in a home on the east side of Melody Lane was denied because the traffic would have been on the residential street.

Dean Katerndahl, chairman of the planning and zoning commission, encouraged more conversation between the neighborhood and the developers.

“The more conversation we have then the better the developments we get.”

Katerndahl said that when the master plan was adopted in 2009 they had specifically considered those lots and a conscious decision was made to protect the neighborhood with the residential buffer. He said the master plan is a contract with the community that they should follow unless there is a compelling reason to change it.

Doug Krtek, planning commissioner, said he was concerned with just leaving the properties as residential because he does not expect a house will ever be built on the corner and it would just remain an empty, overgrown lot.

John Delich, commissioner, said he could only support the development plan if there were improvements made to Melody Lane, such as curbs and gutters. He said the developers should show plans detailing screening on the site to minimize light and noise reaching the community.

He referenced the recent approval and construction of the Quik Trip to the east on Highway 45. The developers there were brought cross-sections showing the grading and used screening to reduce the impact to neighbors and it has been a very nice project.

A motion was made by the commissioners to deny the rezoning but it failed. Another motion was then made to recommend approving the rezoning and it passed. The commission then made a motion to continue the discussion of the preliminary development plan until the next meeting.

The history of the commercial proposals for the main property started in April 2003, according to Stephen Lachky, community development director. Parkville approved rezoning the properties along Hwy. 45 to “planned business district.” The initial proposal called for a three-story office/medical building, a bank, and a multi-tenant building backing up to the homes along Melody Lane.

Some residents in the Parkville Heights subdivision challenged the city's approval of the rezoning in court and opposed how close one proposed building was to the two properties along Melody Lane. The Platte County court system sided with the city in 2005 and a new development plan was approved by the city in August 2005.

Initial grading on the site was conducted but a revised plan had to be approved in 2006 because of a grading error that removed trees that were required as a buffer zone. The revised plan then included a conservation easement forcing construction to be further from the edges of the property.

A substantial change was made to the development plan in 2009 to show construction of a Christian Brothers Automotive on the western portion of the site.

This was not the first change to the development plan submitted to the city, according to a staff report.

“From 2003 to 2009 the preliminary development plan for Apex Plaza was revised four separate times; however, the applicants never proceeded past a final development plan to permits for construction. Over the past 14 years, only initial grading and clearing has been conducted.”

All of the previous development plans only had roadway connections along Hwy. 45 and did not include the two residential properties along Melody Lane. The previous plans all included only three buildings to be constructed, but the new proposal shows four buildings. The building shown to be closest to Melody Lane is planned to be at the 20-foot building setback from the edge of the property.

CBC is a Kansas City-based company specializing in development, consulting, and property management. According to their website, CBC was the developer for The Village at Shoal Creek project along Hwy. 152 near Liberty. They were also the master developer for the Village West project, assisting the government of Wyandotte County with real estate services.

The City of Gladstone selected CBC to be the private developer for the Northland Innovation Campus along North Oak Trafficway. CBC is also working with Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and Native Grill & Wings to develop multiple locations for the chain restaurants across several states.

The site for the proposed Apex Plaza development in Parkville is located on the north side of Hwy. 45 between Melody Lane and Bell Road. Numerous attempts have been made to develop the site since 2003 and a new proposal is taking the first steps toward approval in Parkville.
Alan McArthur/Landmark photo