Residents turn out to ask about zoning code rewrite

UG Planning Director Rob Richardson, right, answered questions today about a zoning code rewrite. (Staff photo)

by Mary Rupert

Gravel driveways, AirBNBs and tiny homes were just a few of the topics that came up at the first Kansas City, Kansas, zoning code rewrite meeting today.

A lot of community interest was shown in the zoning code rewrite, with a packed meeting room today at the Salvation Army Harbor Light Village at 6723 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. About 115 people attended the meeting.

Some residents had wide policy comments, while others who attended were concerned about how a zoning code rewrite would affect their own property.

A second public meeting on the zoning code rewrite is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. today, June 20, at Memorial Hall, second floor, 600 N. 7th St., Kansas City, Kansas.

Besides sharing their opinions at this meeting, residents may go online to a website to make comments about what they want to see in the zoning code at surveymonkey.com/r/kckzoningrewrite.

The survey has questions on AirBNB, Hosted Homestays, Vacation Home Rentals, development priorities, little free libraries, bars with live entertainment, how many sheds should be allowed, where horses and goats might be allowed, and how walkable should a neighborhood be.

“How did dollar stores pop up next to residential areas without us knowing?” one resident asked at today’s public meeting.

Also, another resident, Elnora Jefferson, wanted to know how the state could try to put a parole or probation office within a few feet of a child care center, without having to go through a UG zoning process. She wanted to know if something could be put into the new zoning rewrite that would address the issue. Officials told her that the state did not have to go through the zoning process as long as a building was already zoned commercial. A public outcry forced a change in that plan to locate offenders near a child care center a couple of years ago.

Another resident wanted to know about zoning changes in historic neighborhoods such as Strawberry Hill. Still another asked about areas that were zoned for one use, but had a lower use. A resident wanted to know about zoning at a mobile home park near South 59th.

One man talked about how he wasn’t allowed to build a structure on his property because utility lines went through the middle of the property. Another man said a church had a plan to build tiny homes, but the project could not get approval.

Would nonconforming uses in effect now be grandfathered, one resident asked. One of the goals of the rewrite is to limit nonconforming uses, and the final plan will depend on public comments and officials’ approval.

Rob Richardson, Unified Government planning director, told the audience that the current code was written in the early to mid-1970s. He said multiple meetings will be held for public response on the zoning code rewrite before a Planning Commission meeting will hear a proposed rewrite, perhaps nine to 10 months from now.

The zoning code focuses on “what you will be allowed to do on your land,” he said. Will you be able to subdivide it? How much maximum area is allowed for a shed? These are the sorts of questions the zoning code will answer, according to Richardson. Public comments are being used to develop the new code, he said.

A steering committee is being appointed that will consider any differences that are brought up in public comments, according to Richardson.

Mark White, a planner and attorney at White and Smith, LLC, of Kansas City, Missouri, is working with the UG on the zoning code rewrite.

There are goals that have been set for the plan, according to White. Also, the community will decide whether to have strict mandatory requirements for zoning, or whether to be more flexible.

He said plans will be rolled out in modules, with a goal of getting the zoning code rewrite to the Planning Commission by winter of 2019. A draft of the zoning code rewrite is scheduled for late summer 2018, followed by a revised draft in fall of 2018. After approval by the Planning Commission, it would go to the UG Commission for final adoption.

More than 100 persons attended a zoning code rewrite meeting today. Another meeting will be held tonight. (Staff photo)
Mark White, a planner working with the zoning code rewrite, answered questions today on the process. (Staff photo)
Public comments and questions were written at the zoning code meeting today. (Staff photo)
Several persons asked questions during the zoning code rewrite meeting today. (Staff photo)
The zoning code rewrite should be user-friendly , avoid nonconformities and have several other qualities, according to officials.
Zoning officials said there were currently 36 total districts here. There are areas in Piper where the residents are under slightly different zoning codes, going back to days when it was unincorporated, according to officials. One of the goals is for uniform zoning codes across the city.

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