Archive for Thursday, February 18, 2016

Your View: Prepare the way for attractive apartment and commercial developments

February 18, 2016

Editor's Note: Reader and lifelong Shawnee resident Phil Hirt submitted this column to editor@shawneedispatch.com in reaction to other submitted columns and the city's decision not to approve the Vantage at Shawnee apartments in January.

Many Shawnee residents agree with the premise that every city should have multiple and diverse options for residential housing. I am one of these.

Shawnee is not participating well in this current trend for several reasons. My belief is that the most important reason is that Shawnee is not planning and preparing for them. The current "Pick a Parcel" of land and we, the city, will make it work for you, now cannot work, and is not consistent with the Kansas Supreme Court Golden controlling factors. As a matter of fact, these Golden factors were already built into the Shawnee zoning codes — easily overlooked, to become a victim of desired development, as they were in the Vantage project.

The successful communities prepare the way for developers. Look at the very successful Lenexa, Olathe and Overland Park planned apartment communities recently completed or in the works. Shawnee staff and elected officials need to identify the many areas remaining in Shawnee bordering the Shawnee Mission Parkway, Interstate 435 and Kansas Highway 7 corridors and create apartment- and commercial-ready development areas before they too are picked apart and unsuitable.

Great development projects include the amenities these new residents want to move to: shopping, dining, entertainment and recreational facilities either already nearby or developing nearby.

Put the proper plans and zoning in place to attract and accommodate developer plans and guide them to these areas that do not violate the Golden controlling factors for inappropriate locations. Some cities are even revitalizing downtown areas with these types of zones. What a tremendous revitalization project this would be for the Nieman Road corridor proposal.

It is time for city leaders to build a plan for diverse housing growth and to not just hope to accommodate by the piecemeal "Pick a Parcel" and hope it works out.

I encourage our city manager, staff and elected officials to immediately and aggressively pursue planned zoning for apartment projects, or Zoned Apartment Projects (ZAP).

Send the positive message to these developers that Shawnee is ready, willing and able to fast track your project.

Build it and they will come.

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