A proposal to help with housing in Prairie Village is drawing vocal critics — and misinformation
Nearly 40 residents spoke at Prairie Village's Sept. 6 city council meeting, and all but a few were opposed to the proposed updates to zoning standards. Many said they're concerned about increasing housing density worsening traffic, overcrowding schools and other issues that will “degrade the integrity” of Prairie Village.
A group of Prairie Village residents — including multiple former members of the city council — on Tuesday again packed city hall to voice concerns about a series of recommendations made by city’s ad hoc housing committee. But city officials contend that much of the opposition is based on misinformation and are working to communicate to residents what, exactly, the recommendations would entail if enacted.
City housing webpage: City staff last week launched a new webpage about the housing policy recommendations in response to an onslaught of emails they’re received related to “discussion and misinformation” about the proposed housing policy changes.
The webpage includes frequently asked questions, a housing policy primer and outlines steps needed to rezone a property. It states the city is not considering rezoning any areas, but that the housing committee recommendations do include updates to zoning standards.
Additionally, it reminds the public that no updates to the zoning ordinance are concrete at this time — but will be discussed over the next several months.
These potential updates include considering revising accessory dwelling unit standards in R-1 districts and duplex standards in R-2 districts, according to the FAQ portion of the website.
The FAQ portion also outlines two goals of the housing recommendations: To diversify the city’s housing stock and “maintain the integrity of Prairie Village neighborhoods.”
Opponents voice concerns with proposed changes
Nearly 40 residents spoke at the Sept. 6 city council meeting and all but a few of the comments were in opposition to the ad hoc group’s recommendations.
Several residents, like Todd Bleakley, said they are concerned about what will happen to single family housing because the recommendations include updates for what would be allowed in R1-A and R1-B-zoned lots, which currently accommodate the city’s single family housing stock.
Lori Sharp and others asked the city council to remove the proposed changes to the R1-A and R1-B districts, the single family housing zoning districts, from the recommendations.
Others like Jean Taylor said they do not want to see the domino effect density brings, such as increased traffic, congested parking, overcrowded schools and other issues that will “degrade the integrity” of Prairie Village.
Only a few residents, including Daniel Terreros and Lauren Martin, told the city council they support the ad hoc housing committee recommendations.
While almost all of the residents noted their opposition to the recommendations, many like Randy Hartman said they are concerned with current city leadership and a lack of transparency.
A few former Prairie Village councilmembers like Jori Nelson, Sheila Myers and Brooke Morehead have been outspoken against the housing recommendations.
There are five total former city councilmembers who “adamantly oppose any rezoning in our single family neighborhoods” and who are working with residents across the city, Nelson told the Post via text.
Nelson told the Post these councilmembers “oppose taking away residents’ due process rights” and said “the constant mixed messaging from” city officials is “concerning.”
Echoing residents public comments, Nelson called for the removal of single family housing from any recommendations.
Nelson frequently posts on Nextdoor, a neighborhood website, encouraging residents to remain engaged and questioning city-issued information about the housing recommendations.
Additionally, Nelson is active in the Stop Neighborhood Rezoning PV Kansas Facebook group.
Nelson, Myers and Morehead have spoken to the city council about their concerns, as well.
Myers suggested at the Sept. 6 meeting that the mayor and city council target their own blocks for implementation of the recommendations.
Additionally, Myers said she’s “disheartened” by the governing body’s attitude when speaking to residents about their concerns with the recommendations.
“I’m disheartened by the recalcitrant attitude and frustration expressed by the mayor and councilmembers addressing residents’ questions and concerns,” Myers said at the Sept. 6 city council meeting. “I’m disturbed by the city officials’ efforts to distort and misrepresent their own statements.”
How we got here
The Prairie Village City Council unanimously approved three recommendations from the ad hoc housing committee, which was charged with developing recommendations on how to expand the landlocked city’s housing stock.
Dozens of residents showed up to the July 18 meeting misinformed about a citywide rezoning, which was not on the agenda.
Still, about 25 residents told the city council they are concerned about the housing recommendations and what it means for the future of the city.
The Post reached out to the email associated with Prairie Village Residents United Against Rezoning, the group that sent out an email to other residents and is listed on some Nextdoor posts, but did not hear back.
The planning commission will begin discussions of the ad hoc housing recommendations — and start to develop its own recommendations — at its Sept. 13 meeting, according to the city’s website.
Planning commission will send its housing policy recommendations to the city council for consideration in late September or early October.
Depending on the city council’s direction, “staff will review and prepare formal recommendations on any specific updates to the zoning regulations” in early 2023, according to the website.
Public hearings held by the planning commission and subsequent recommendations to the city council are anticipated for late winter or early spring 2023.
Final decisions on any specific ordinance changes are anticipated to come to the city council in spring 2023.
This story was originally published on the Shawnee Mission Post.