Parkville Board of Aldermen approved zoning changes to allow for apartment complex

New rules of engagement and new plans for an apartment complex in Parkville are frustrating nearby residents, but city planners say it leads to the modernization Parkville needs to stay healthy.

During a June 6 meeting, the Parkville Board of Aldermen approved zoning changes to land on the east side of Highway 9 near the Parkville Commons, which would allow for the construction of 46 unit, three-story apartment complex to be constructed on the approximately 5 acre site.

That plan, which will be called Lake Point Lodge, has upset nearby residents of the Pinecrest neighborhood.

Patty Bruer, who lives in Pinecrest, says she and other residents are concerned about traffic congestion the apartments would bring to the one street entrance for their neighborhood. They are also worried about safety and long-range property values.

“Apartment buildings have a life-cycle,” Bruer said. “There’s a lot of turnover. What we foresee happening to these apartments is that they will gradually deteriorate over time. It’s going to hurt every single owner of a home in Pinecrest to have a rundown apartment building at our entrance. It’s very upsetting to us.”

Neighbors expressed their concerns at a May 9 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Their major contention was the Parkville was allowing a development to go beyond zoning codes, which call for 8 units per acre as a maximum.

Neighbors have raised protests about development of this piece of land for more than a decade. In 2004, the current owner, Kevin Green, owner of KGH Building Group and SKG LLC, was granted permission from the city to develop the land for business use.

At that point, the total plot for Lakepoint Professional Center was 6.2 acres. The developer agreed to donate 1.4 acres to the city for parkland as a buffer between the businesses and the entrance to Pinecrest. While the 1.4 acres is currently under the ownership of the city, leaving the current owner with just about 5 acres of land to develop, the business development project never came to fruition.

The change from a business park to an apartment complex first came up two years ago. At that time neighbors expressed several concerns about having an apartment building with a club house on the site. The Board of Aldermen and the Planning and Zoning commission rejected the application. The property owner sued the city, calling the rejection of his application a violation of his civil rights. That lawsuit is still pending.

The plan approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission this time includes some accommodations made for concerns of neighbors raised in 2015. The city has also recently changed the way it approves such applications for development.

A newly developed zoning code for Parkville approved in 2017 allows the Planning and Zoning Commission to have the final approval on site development plans. In the past, an apartment complex like this one would have had to go before the Board of Aldermen for approval in a Master Plan District process. The new process is streamlined but surprised neighbors, who felt they did not have the understanding of how to protest, or the time or ability to appeal the decision.

“We were kind of blindsided by the change in rules. That’s not the city’s fault. We just didn’t know they had changed the rules about how this was going to transpire,” Bruer said.

Parkville Community Development Director Stephen Lachky explained city staff believes the zoning codes were followed because the 2017 plan is simply a modification of the original 2004 plan. He also points out that compared to other cities, Parkville’s limit on the maximum residence per acre is quite low.

Lachky says the lack of current apartment stock or a wide variety of housing options in Parkville is not good for the city long-term.

“There’s not a lot of workforce housing,” he said. “If you get out of the downtown area, it’s really just detached single family homes with an average price-point of $350,000 and higher. For sustainability in a community, you want a mix of different housing stocks and types so as people progress through life they can progress up and back down.”

Parkville city leaders have approved four other apartment complex plans in recent years, but none of them has come to construction. Eagle Point, which was to contain 240 apartments and 112 condo units, was approved in 2000 but never constructed.

Villas at the National, which was approved in 2005 and amended in 2007 to contain over 300 apartments, is still not constructed.

A plan called 45 Park Place, which was approved for construction in 2006 for an area near Interstate 435 and Highway 45, called for 500 apartments. It has been completely abandoned. Bella Vista at the National, which is set to include 346 units across 46 acres, received approval in 2015, but has yet to go to construction.’

Lachky says the topography is difficult in Parkville for large apartment projects. However, he believes the economy of the late 2000s also played a role in some of those apartments not coming to completion. Lachky says the city has plans for an upgrade to a “complete streets” design for that section of Missouri Highway 9 coming in 2018, which would make the area friendlier for pedestrians and residents.

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