At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, a representative of the group opposing the proposed Mission Chateau development submitted a fresh protest petition to the Prairie Village city clerk, a move intended to once again trigger a supermajority requirement at the city council level, making it more difficult for the project to gain final approval.
Less than 24 hours later, three of the signatories to that protest had dropped off identical notarized documents with the clerk, reversing course and requesting that their names be removed from the petition — a move allowed within three days of a petition’s filing under Prairie Village law. To make the situation even more convoluted, one of those three property owners now says his name will stay on the protest petition because only he, and not his wife, signed the request to have their names removed, making the document invalid.
It’s a confusing chain of events that further muddies already murky waters in the run up to the scheduled Jan. 6 city council meeting where the fate of the new Mission Chateau proposal may be decided.
Prairie Village City Administrator Quinn Bennion said the city’s law firm was in the process of reviewing each of the signatures on the protest petition, and would be determining in the coming weeks whether the petition had valid signatures representing 20 percent of the total area within 200 feet of the property – the threshold needed to trigger the 10-vote supermajority requirement for passage at the council level.
Two of the three homeowners who filed the paperwork to have their names removed from the petition confirmed that the Tutera Group had provided the paperwork for them to sign. But all three said they had come to the decision to remove their names on their own, and that Tutera had provided no financial incentives for them to reverse course.
“He agreed to do some landscaping along the border of the property on his side to improve our view, but that was all we discussed,” said William Wilt, the property owner who says his request to be removed from the petition will be invalid.
Two of the homeowners said the pushiness of certain members of the Mission Valley Neighbors Association had turned them off, and that, more than anything, they “just want this to be over,” according to one.
Ryan Fischer of the Tutera Group declined repeated opportunities to provide a yes or no answer to questions about whether the company had offered incentives to homeowners who agreed not to sign the petition or to have their names removed.
“Individuals have the right to not to be intimidated relative to signing a protest petition,” Fischer wrote in an email. “Individuals have the right to make their own decisions.”
After the city’s Planning Commission approved the first Mission Chateau proposal in August, the MVNA led efforts to file a successful protest petition with signatories representing more than 50 percent of the area eligible to protest, ultimately dooming the proposal at the council level.
By replacing a row of proposed senior housing “villas” with single-family lots, Tutera’s second filing shifted the 200-foot buffer zone far enough north to eliminate protest eligibility for five houses that had signed the first protest petition – widely seen as a strategic move to decrease the odds for a second successful protest petition. (Those five homeowners signed the petition anyway, though the city will almost certainly deem their signatures invalid.)
Those same five homeowners whose properties abut the southern edge of the Mission Valley property filed a lawsuit against the city of Prairie Village last week seeking to delay a vote on the matter and claiming that they had been disenfranchised by not being eligible in the protest petition.