Expect Feb. 6 to be a lively evening at Prairie Village City Hall.
More than 100 Mission Valley area residents packed into a meeting room at Hillcrest Covenant Church Sunday afternoon to organize a pointed protest against the city’s plan to spend $90,000 on a public input process and land use study for development of the abandoned school property.
Their mission: to keep the Mission Valley site zoned for residential use, and prevent the mixed-use development proposed by MVS, LLC, a company represented by RED Brokerage.
Attorney Brian Doerr and industrial real estate broker Whitney Kerr, both Mission Valley neighborhood homeowners, spearheaded the effort to formally organize against the comprehensive planning process recommended by the Prairie Village City Council at its Jan. 17 meeting. They formed a non-profit corporation, the Mission Valley Neighbors Association, Inc., to allow them to collect funds to oppose the issue.
Doerr told the crowd of anxious homeowners Sunday that they group feels the city should have plenty of legal ground to reject a request from RED to rezone the property — despite the contention of several Prairie Village City Council members at the Jan. 17 meeting.
“What they say is that without the comprehensive planning process, they don’t have enough to stand on to oppose a rezoning request,” Doerr said. “We say, yes they do.”
Doerr pointed to a set of stipulations for approving or rejecting a rezoning request commonly known as the “Golden Factors” that are in the city’s zoning regulations. These include “The extent that a change will detrimentally affect neighboring property,” and “The character of the neighborhood” — both of which, Doerr suggested, should be sufficient rationales for keeping the Mission Valley site residential.
“We need to put them [the City Council] on the spot and suggest, ‘You’re doing this at the behest of the developer. You’re not doing it for the citizens,'” Doerr said to strong applause.
Doerr also stressed that the group was not anti-development or anti-business, but that property owner should be prepared to live within the boundaries of the purchase agreement.
“They bought it. It’s theirs,” he said. “But the property was bought without the condition that it would be rezoned. You can’t expect that rezoning will occur.”
Several homeowners in the crowd displayed visible indignation at the idea of a mixed-use development coming to the site, noting that the accompanying parking lot and lighting required for retail and office space would have a significant impact on the character of their neighborhood. Two of the four non-incumbents to have filed for the upcoming City Council elections — Ted Odell from Ward 6 and Tim Pickell from Ward 4 — attended the meeting as well.
Doerr and Kerr told the crowd that the group had raised nearly $2,000 for the effort. John Duggan, an attorney with Doerr’s law firm, will be serving as a spokesperson for the group at the Feb. 6 council meeting.