C-2 (General Commercial)
R-30/PUD (High Density Residential/Planned Unit Development)
13.57 acres +/-
BACKGROUND & HISTORY:
Building Design - The proposed 13.57+/- acre development, entitled ‘The Falls’ will consist of 285 multi-family units divided into 23 buildings. The structures will be either two- or three- story buildings with the shorter structures sited along Bass Pro Drive with the taller buildings in the center of the site. Some 133 apartments will be single bedroom units, with the remaining 142 being two bedroom units. Square footage will range from 789 SF for the smallest single bedroom unit to 1,267 SF for larger two bedroom unit. Rental rates range from $1,000 for the smallest single bedroom unit to $1,300 for the largest two bedroom unit. Case states that this is a market rate project; the company does not accept subsidized housing vouchers (i.e., Section 8).
The complex will feature several building designs from a typical apartment multi-story structure to two-story building with townhome appearance. Buildings will take styling ques from the Bass Pro Shop’s ‘Adirondack’ style featuring a combination of stone, brick, siding, and other architectural elements of that building. The color pallet features reddish/brown brick, medium brown stone, with a medium brown siding. A contrasting dark brown and green will be used on the building’s gables. Most of the buildings will feature garages, no free-standing detached garages are provided.
Project amenities will include a 3,453 square foot clubhouse/leasing office facility with a game room, fitness and media centers. Adjacent to the clubhouse is the outdoor pool with cabana, social area with a fireplace and barbeque grill.
Site Improvements - The site is accessed by three driveways: the north, south and the primary entrance onto Bass Pro Drive on the east side of the lot. Circulation through be site is provided via a private circle drive with two cross drives. Security gates, activated remotely by the tenants, will be installed at, or adjacent to, all three entrances. White three-rail vinyl fencing will be erected along most of the south, east and part of the north sides of the site; with the remainder of the north fencing being a six foot privacy fence.
In addition to the 100+ garage spaces, over 375 parking spaces for tenants and guests are provided throughout the site. A dog park/courtyard is sited in the south part of the complex.
The tree line along the west property line that separated the The Falls at Crackerneck from the Whispering Meadow subdivision was retained and combined with a masonry wall, 10 feet in height, to provide screening and buffering between the commercial and residential properties; this wall/landscape buffer is retained by The Falls. Since then however, the tree line has thinned and addition trees are needed to supplement the existing vegetation.
Current/Proposed Zoning: Currently the property is zoned C-2 (General Commercial) which allows for offices, department stores, childcares, restaurants, hair salons, specialty retail stores and other Conditional and Special Uses (body art shops, tobacco stores). If rezoned to R-30/PUD (High Density Residential/Planned Unit Development) several types of multi-family dwellings, as well as child daycares, schools, churches, cemeteries, and some other Conditional and Special Uses are allowed.
Adjacent Land Use and Zoning: The proposed development is bounded by C-2 zoned properties on its north, south and west sides with existing retail businesses to the north and east. Land to the west is the Whispering Meadows subdivision zoned R-12/PUD.
Utilities: When The Falls at Crackerneck development was constructed over a decade ago, the streets and utilities were installed throughout the entire project, including for this lot. As such, water, sanitary sewer, and electric services are already on the property or a short distance away and readily available for extension; the developer is responsible for the extension of those services.
Storm Water: The project is eligible for payment in lieu of detention as it is served by a regional detention facility (Bass Pro Lake); such payment must be made before the final plans are approved. Preliminary site drawings show much of the storm drainage flowing into an existing 96 inch drain pipe which transverses the southern part of the site in an east/west direction. A second storm drain will system will serve the southern part of site, also draining into the Bass Pro Lake.
Traffic: As the original Falls at Crackerneck concept had been slated for commercial use, a new study was conducted based upon this proposed residential component. This new study includes impacts of this apartment project on the existing roadway network, the need for additional turn lanes, storage bays, intersection controls, and so forth. It contains scenarios of the existing conditions, existing plus development conditions, and then projections for future year 2040 conditions.
In general, the study finds:
1. the study’s intersections are not expected to be significantly impacted by the proposed development;
2. the southern drive doesn’t meet the minimum sight distance standard but existing foliage along Bass Pro Drive west of the driveway can be trimmed to improve conditions;
3. that while the project’s eastern drive doesn’t meet the minimum intersection spacing with Bass Pro Shops western service entrance, this service drive has a low traffic volume;
4. the northbound right turn for the Bass Pro Drive at Lee’s Summit Road should be monitored for the possible need for an additional right turn lane.
Consistency with Independence for All, Strategic Plan:
In accordance with objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan, this proposed apartment venture will ‘build new housing units to fill a market need’ while contributing to the continuing development of this overall project.
Comprehensive Plan Guiding Land Use Principles:
This site, along with other land in the southwest quadrant of the I-70 and M-291/I-470 crossroads is designated for ‘Mixed Use’ by the Imagine Independence 2040 Comprehensive Plan. It’s in accordance with the Plan’s comments “… to accommodate a mixture of medium- and high-density housing and complementary office, commercial and institutional uses that have, or will have, sufficient public utilities.” The project will promote walkable neighborhood with easy access to stores and business in this development and the nearby Eastland Center. This project will also contribute to the further development of the remaining lots in this Crackerneck Creek development.
Recommendations and decisions on a proposed Preliminary Development Plan must be based on consideration of the criteria listed in Section 14-703-05-H:
1. The consistency with the Comprehensive Plan.
The Comprehensive Plan envisions Mixed Use for the site, along with the remainder of this development. This development is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
2. The consistency with the PUD standards of Section 14-902, including the statement of purpose.
Section 14-902 is intended to allow design flexibility that results in greater public benefit than would be achieved using conventional zoning regulations; this project is in conformance with that standard and promotes attractive residential development compatible with the surrounding area.
3. The nature and extent of Common Open Space in the PUD.
The site plan provides for open space/recreation areas in the central (clubhouse amenities) and south end of the development (courtyard/dog park). Other features include an internal sidewalk through the site and the existing natural buffer area between this project and the neighboring Whispering Meadows subdivision to the west.
4. The reliability of the proposals for maintenance and conservation of Common Open Space. The applicant states that the ownership of the project will be constructed, managed and maintained by a single limited liability corporation. No units, buildings, or property will be sold but will remain in a single ownership.
5. The adequacy or inadequacy of the amount and function of Common Open Space in terms of the densities and dwelling types proposed in the plan.
The preliminary development plan proposes amenities and open space in the central (clubhouse/pool) and the south side (courtyard/dog park) areas of the site. Additional open space is provided via the nearby Bass Pro Lake and its accompanying recreational activities.
6. The extent to which the proposed use will adversely affect the capacity of safety portions of the street network or present parking problems in the vicinity of the property. Whether adequate provision for public services, provides adequate control over vehicular traffic, and furthers the amenities of light and air, recreation and visual enjoyment.
The traffic impact study indicates that, other than a sight distance issue for the southern driveway onto Bass Pro Drive, this proposed project will not adversely affect the street network in the vicinity of the project. More than adequate parking is provided internal to the complex; no on street parking is allowed on Bass Pro Drive. Public services such as water, sanitary sewer, and electric are readily available to the site. An apartment complex here will provide more opportunities for light, air, recreation and visual enjoyment than the commercial development originally slated for this site.
7. The extent to which the proposed use will have a substantially adverse effect on adjacent property and the development or conservation of the neighborhood area.
When originally prepared for development as part of The Falls at Crackerneck, this site was slated for commercial use, retail businesses in particular. As such, the mitigation of impact measures relating to traffic, parking, recreation, and related elements were designed into project at its inception.
8. Whether potential adverse impacts have been mitigated to the maximum practical extent. Mitigation efforts have been made by the original developer, and by Case, to reduce impacts to the adjoining Whispering Meadows subdivision. This was done by eliminating any street connection to the subdivision and providing a 50 feet+ wide natural buffer area with a masonry wall along the entire length of the property line between The Falls and the residential neighborhood.
9. Whether the Preliminary Development Plan represents such a unique development proposal that it could not have accomplished through use of (non-PUD) conventional zoning regulations.
The R-30/PUD zoning classification requires the review and approval of a Preliminary Development Plan. With its building design, site layout, and planned amenities, the proposed development does present a unique design that it could not be achieved using conventional zoning regulations.
10. The sufficiency of the terms and conditions proposed to protect the interest of the public and the residents of the PUD in the case of a plan that proposes development over a period of years.
The applicant states this development will be constructed in a single phase and remain entirely in one ownership.
Planning Commission Action: At its December 8, 2020 Planning Commission meeting, the motion for approval passed 6-1 with the conditions listed above.
Planning Commission Meeting Minutes from December 8, 2020:
“Case 20-125-01 – Rezoning/Preliminary Development Plan – 4580 S. Bass Pro Drive
Stuart Borders presented the case. Mr. Borders presented the Commission with a vicinity map, noting the area and surrounding zoning. He presented the Commission with an aerial map indicating the project area and explained the surrounding land uses. Mr. Borders outlined several conditions including trash enclosure requirements, ADA sign language requirements, main entry sign design standard requirements, adding shrubs to interior islands, adding trees to the screen line, adding more architectural detail to the rear elevations, cutting back foliage from the southern driveway and review fencing requirements for site distance concerns.
Commissioner Preston asked for feedback from staff about the Traffic Impact Study. Mr. Arroyo stated staff worked with the applicant on issues that arose from the study. He stated generally, the infrastructure there is sufficient for the development as proposed. Mr. Arroyo stated future development may cause the need for improvements to the intersection with Lee’s Summit Road.
Commissioner Dreher asked if this would fall under a TIF and asked who is paying for this project. Mr. Ellena stated an amendment to the TIF would go to the TIF Commission early next year. He stated the TIF Amendment and Rezoning would be heard at the City Council on the same date.
Bill Moore, 4510 Belleview Avenue, Kansas City, MO, attorney for the applicant, stated Case Associates is a well-respected developer. He stated they have experience developing apartments, office, retail and industrial projects. Mr. Moore stated this would be an upscale apartment development. He said this development will have 23 buildings with 275 apartments. There will be a mixture of two- and three-story buildings. Mr. Moore said there will be 133 one-bedroom apartments and 142 two-bedroom apartments. Square footage for the apartments will range from 789 square-feet to 1267 square-feet. Mr. Moore noted rent will range between $1,000 and $1,300. There will be a 3400 square-foot clubhouse with numerous amenities. There will be 110 garage stalls available to tenants for an additional cost. Mr. Moore stated the architecture of the Bass Pro building was taken into account when creating the renderings and deciding on the façade.
Mr. Moore stated amenities include a business center, a game room, an outdoor swimming pool with cabana, a fire pit, outdoor grills and a dog park. He stated interior apartment amenities include ceramic wood-like tile entryways, stainless steel appliances, vaulted ceilings on the top floors, 2-inch mini-blinds, LED fireplaces and ceramic tile in the tubs and showers. Mr. Moore stated this type of development will make it a true mixed use development. He stated there is no adverse impact to the surrounding properties.
Tom Fulton, 7301 W 133rd Street, Overland Park, KS, Technical Leader for Traffic and Technology for Olsson Associates, stated the traffic study was done while working with the City Traffic Engineer, Mark Green. Mr. Fulton stated they agreed to add a 10% increase in traffic to account for conditions during the COVID pandemic. To look at future conditions, a 2% growth rate was taken into account. He stated this will have a very small impact to the surrounding roads. Mr. Fulton stated since this area was originally planned for commercial development, changing it to residential provides minimum impact. He said timing changes can and will be made by the City to take care of minor issues that will arise. Mr. Fulton stated AM peak, PM peak and daily comparisons were all looked at as a part of the study.
Byron Constance, 3729 S. Union, owner of the property in question, stated this will be a boost for the entire area and could be a catalyst for additional development near Bass Pro. He stated he was glad to find a residential developer like Case Development to head up this project.
In response to Commissioner Preston’s question, Mr. Constance stated none of the development is located in a floodplain.
Commissioner Weir asked if there would be an impact to local schools. Mr. Moore stated you don’t typically find school age children in apartments of this nature. Mr. Moore confirmed this development would fall in the Blue Springs School District. Mr. Case stated they will not have any three-bedroom units. He stated most of their residents tend to be single or couples. Mr. Case stated in the Broken Arrow complex of 275 units, there are only 16 school age children.
Scott Case, 4200 E. Skelly Drive, Tulsa, Oklahoma, stated he is happy to answer any additional questions. Mr. Case stated they have an existing development in Kansas City, Missouri. He said they are also closing on new site in Belton, Missouri. Mr. Case noted they have not asked the City for any subsidies.
In response to Commissioner Michell’s question, Mr. Case stated in Broken Arrow, OK, there is a Bass Pro shop in their area. He stated after they built the apartments, additional food and retail developed in the area.
Commissioner Dreher asked about the projected rent. Mr. Case stated the one-bedroom apartments will start at around $1,000 a month and the two bedrooms will go up to around $1,500 a month. Commissioner Dreher stated he doesn’t believe Independence residents can afford rent that high. Mr. Case stated they did a market study and they believe they are in line with other apartments in the area. Mr. Case said the majority of their residents lease because they want maintenance free housing and they prefer to rent and not purchase a home.
In response to Commissioner Michell’s question, Mr. Case stated there will be decorative fencing along Bass Pro Drive for visual appeal. The three entrances will have limited access gates. There will be one gate with a keypad for guests entering the area.
Commissioner Michell asked if they’re willing to add additional windows as staff has recommended. Mr. Case stated they are very sensitive to the surrounding homeowners and patrons of the Bass Pro area. He said they are willing to talk with City staff to make the area more visually appealing. Mr. Case noted they will also increase the landscaping, as requested by City staff.
John Zelk, 4418 S. Davidson Drive, stated he is the Homeowner Association President for Whispering Meadows. Mr. Zelk said property owners had a lot of concerns when they first heard about this project. He stated Case Development met with the Homeowner Association and listened to their concerns. Mr. Zelk said most of these concerns were taken care of and are satisfactory to their residents. He stated they no longer have any reservations about this development.
Commissioner Preston stated he came to this meeting with a number of questions and all were answered. He stated he is now enthusiastic about this development.
Commissioner Ferguson stated she believes this will be a wonderful development.
Commissioner Weir stated he hopes this development will help pay the TIF bills.
Commissioner Michell stated he is most excited about this possibly being a catalyst for additional development in the area.
Chairwoman McClain stated she was glad to learn that Case Development met with surrounding neighbors to address their concerns before coming forward to the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Preston made a motion to approve Case 20-125-01 – Rezoning/Preliminary Development Plan – 4580 S. Bass Pro Drive, with staff recommendations. Commissioner Ferguson seconded the motion. The motion passed with six affirmative votes.”