Commission allows rezoning for 15-plex

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners thumbed their noses at the planning board, and also deferred the Fort Riley Boulevard/Seth Child Road interchange project during Tuesday’s meeting.

Rejecting a planning board recommendation for denial, commissioners approved the rezoning of lots at 1021 and 1027 Thurston Street by a supermajority 4-1 vote. They also requested that the zoning board consider rezoning the entire block from its two-family residential district with a traditional neighborhood overlay to a multiple-family residential district with a multi-family redevelopment overlay district. Commissioner Usha Reddi dissented on both counts, saying she wanted to wait for the update to the comprehensive land use plan to be completed rather than setting a precedent on piecemeal zoning that might go against the plan.

The rezoning will allow the property owners to build a 15-plex apartment building rather than the duplexes that are currently on the property. Commissioner Rich Jankovich noted there was a 12-plex across the street in the same block.

Eric Cattell, assistant director for planning, said that 12-plex had been there before 1985 when the area was “down zoned” to the current two-family residential district with a traditional neighborhood overlay.

Cattell said it would take 18 to 24 months to complete the comprehensive plan, and suggested commissioners wait to determine what the zoning should be for the entire block, rather than “piecemeal zoning” the area.

But commissioner Wynn Butler said he did not want everything to “sit in limbo” for the next two years.

Linda Weis, who sold the property at 1021 Thurston to its current owner, said she supported the new owners building a complex because the current house “is not only vacant, but has all kinds of critters and creatures living in it.”

John Pence, a property owner on Thurston, said he wanted the commission to consider the entire block rather than one owner’s property in order to allow other property owners to create more profitable properties through equal zoning.

Seth Child-Ft. Riley Boulevard

Commissioners decided to wait on moving forward with the interchange redesign for Fort Riley Boulevard and Seth Child Road.

They told city engineer Rob Ott they preferred to package the design of the Wildcat Creek Bridge on Fort Riley Boulevard east of the interchange and a design for the Rosencutter/Richards Drive intersection with the proposed design of the interchange. Ott said the Kansas Department of Transportation wants to redesign the bridge because the lowest girder had debris collecting on it from the water levels in Wildcat Creek. He said KDOT wants the bridge to last at least 75 years, and city staff is working with KDOT to determine how wide that bridge should be to accommodate future traffic conditions.

Ott said he would discuss the packaging of the three projects into one and having them all built in 2017, when the bridge project is slated to begin. He said he thought KDOT would be receptive to the idea because that is what happened this year with the redesign of the Leavenworth and Tuttle Creek Boulevard, and the US-24 and Mall entrance intersections. He said those two intersections will be bid together in the spring even though the mall entrance was supposed to be bid and completed this fall. The city asked KDOT to delay the grant for the mall intersection until next year and combine it with the Leavenworth funding.

Also Tuesday, commissioners unanimously approved construction of a convenience store and car wash in Heritage Square on U.S. Highway 24.

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