You may have heard a lot about the “Planning Commission” lately, and in case you don’t know what that is, I’ve included a little bit about them here.
What is a Planning Commission?
The Prairie Village Planning Commission is a city committee of volunteers (typically with relevant education and experience in the topics of zoning, planning, construction, design, etc.) who are vested with the authority to review, approve, conditionally approve, and disapprove applications for the subdivision of land. Unlike other PV city committees, Planning Commissions, Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Board of Code Appeals are required by Kansas Statutes and governed by Ord. 1901; PVMC 16, Article 1 and the adopted bylaws of the Planning Commission. Here is an excerpt of details from Council Policy 001:
- The Planning Commission/Board of Code & Zoning Appeals will consist of seven voting members including a Chair, Vice-Chair and five other voting members all residing in or within three (3) miles of Prairie Village. Preference will be given to Prairie Village residents. All voting members are appointed by the Mayor with the consent of the City Council. The Chair and Vice-Chair will be elected once per year by the Commission, with different leadership elected for the Board of Code & Zoning Appeals. The term of appointment on the committee will be three years. A Council Liaison appointed by the Mayor, without the consent of the City Council, will attend meetings as a nonmember observer.
- The Planning Commission will meet on the First Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. The Board of Code & Zoning Appeals will meet as needed at 6:30 p.m. on the First Tuesday of the month.
- The duties of the Planning Commission are described in PVMC Chapter XVI covering such responsibilities as Comprehensive Plan, subdivision & zoning regulations, approval of plats. (Ord. 1901; PVMC 16, Article 1 and their adopted bylaws). The duties of the Board of Zoning Appeals are described in PVMC 19.54 covering the hearing of requests for variances to the zoning regulations and appeals of an interpretation of the zoning regulations (Ord. 1409; PVMC 19.54).
So, that’s just a very brief intro, but in light of the recent focus on Planning Commission, I’m sharing the upcoming agenda for December.
Planning Commission Agenda
Here is the Meeting Agenda for the Prairie Village Planning Commission Meeting – Tuesday, December 6, 2022:
- Lot Split – 2211 W. 71st Street
- Site plan for monument sign – 5250 W. 94th Terr
- Site plan exception for fence – 7433 Village Dr
- Approval of 2023 Meeting Dates
- Discussion of Ad-Hoc Housing Committee Recommendations
So, as you can see from the three middle items: generally pretty dry topics. LOL!
However, there are two items of note this month: the lot split and the ad-hoc housing committee recommendations discussion.
Lot Split – 2211 W. 71st Street
The lot split (platting) is a purely administrative action and only of note here because we’ve received some emails from residents about it.
By statue, a lot split like this can be done wholly by staff when it meets all the requirements and does not need to come before the Planning Commission at all. However, in Prairie Village our staff is extra transparent, and still brings them to the Planning Commission purely for informational purposes to keep PC up to date on platting throughout the City.
The Planning Commission has little to no discretion in this particular lot split decision. The reason they don’t have discretion is that the request meets the zoning standards and their obligation is to approve it. Other lot splits that the PC has reviewed over recent years have included rezoning requests as well, and that is why they ultimately came before City Council for final approval or disapproval.
This particular lot is already zoned R1-B and has an extra large lot frontage of 125-1/2 feet, meaning it can easily be split into two lots when the minimum lot frontage for R1-B is 60 feet. Most lots in this area of 71st Street measure in the 60 feet to 80 feet range.
Kevin Green Homes, of Pleasant Valley, MO (about 30 minutes NNE of PV), has submitted this request, and plans to build two new homes in place of this one structure. I’m getting outside my wheelhouse here on Council, but I’ve attempted to highlight a few areas where I think the Neighborhood Design Guidelines and Tree Protection & Tree Removal Regulations will protect these two new structures from being too overwhelming on this stretch of 71st Street.
71st Street is designated a collector street, so it’s required to have 50% or more of the property’s greenspace between the front face and the front property line (typical is 60% for non-arterial/collector streets). Ideally, the front face of the house will align with the other houses along that section of street to maintain the current setback (about 38 feet). Also, the neighborhood design guidelines “limit the expression of the garage as the primary feature at the building frontage”, so hopefully we won’t get any of these:
Side setbacks for new structures will be a minimum of 6 feet from each property line with no less than 12 feet between two adjacent structures. Several of our existing homes along this stretch do not have this 12 feet distance, so there will be some refreshing daylight between these new homes.
This lot currently has two mature trees which should be able to preserved as they are through our tree protection guidelines (I think they’re even right-of-way/street trees). There is one on either side of the lot, so the builder should be able to design the driveways away from those ends (i.e. towards the center of the existing large lot) AND protect the root and drip lines with protective fencing during construction. I hope the tree in the SW corner of the backyard can be preserved as well, though I’m not sure if that one is explicitly protected by the ordinance.
“No new residential structure may be built with a top of foundation more than 12 inches higher than the top of foundation of a previous existing home.” This has been a trickier guideline to predict the application. The intent is that new structures won’t tower over their single-story neighbors, but developers will stretch that foundation as high as they allowably can to start the first floor, because new houses “need” to have full ceiling height basements these days. Which in turn makes that 2nd story just that much higher (29 foot maximum from the top of the foundation). I’ve seen one or two good applications here in Ward 3, but I’ve mostly seen some terrible ones. 😞
Ending on a high note, though, this stretch of 71st Street already has many different styles of home: ranch, cape cod, mid-century modern, Georgian (-esque?), stone cottage, and more… so we (and I do mean “we”, since I’m just 5 houses away) have a lot of room for a diversity of current home styles. Fingers crossed we get some good designs. 🤞
Ad-Hoc Housing Committee Recommendations Discussion
For the ad-hoc housing committee recommendation discussion, at the October 25th meeting, the Planning Commissioners directed staff to prioritize conversations in R-3, R-4, Commercial, and Mixed Use areas prior to discussing changes in R-1 and/or R-2, so this discussion is a follow up to that discussion. The packet also includes the generally understood definitions of certain terms that the PC asked for clarification on as defined by the Village Vision and the current zoning ordinance. Items of discussion will include why the current districts could limit potential projects and what may help further determine which types of projects are appropriate in each district. It should be a good discussion. I look forward to tuning in.
There is still no formal proposal at this time.
See the whole agenda and Planning Commission packet HERE.
I hope you had a wonderful weekend!
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