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Westwood residents sound off on city’s development policy, proposed strategic vision

WESTWOOD, Kan. -- On Monday night, homeowners in Westwood came out to a public hearing to sound off on the city's new proposed strategic plan. The city said the plan is similar to a new development policy.

Some residents said they were in favor of the plan, while others said they don't like the idea of more commercial space and multi-family housing. One resident said it goes against the reason she moved to Westwood 15 years ago.

"People live in single-family homes here, they want to look out the door and they want to see homes that look like their homes," said Gabrielle Favreau.

The city said the plan means they are looking at certain infrastructure and deciding want it's allowed to become in the future. Staff said one example is the future of city hall.

"It could be a mixed-used development, it could be commercial, it could be a senior living facility, it could be any number of things, it could still be city hall," said Fred Sherman, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Westwood.

Another part of the strategic plan that has residents talking is a building at 50th and Belinder. The city said the former intercom building is owned by the Shawnee mission school district and said it could be turned into an elementary school. Residents also showed interest in the area of 50th and Rainbow where there's a school, church and a park.

"We could combine them with the old school site if it's vacated and it could be developed into a number of things," said Sherman. "Whether it be civic use or park space or single-family houses could be or it could be a little higher density housing as well."

Residents explained why they were in favor or not in favor of the strategic plan on Monday. It was the third public hearing on the issue. Some residents stressed wanting the document's vision statement to be altered.

"That master plan did not reflect residents wishes with our core being single-family homes," said Favreau.

City staff said there are no official proposals on the table, and explained this is simply a guideline of what would be allowed in the future.

"Nothing is decided on, this is mainly a policy document to give some guidance if there are to be any specific changes that is going to require an additional specific approval processing, this is just trying to provide some policy framework and terms of what could take place and what actions need to take place," said Sherman.

If the planning commission approves the strategic plan it will move forward to the city council to be voted on.