Plans to expand downtown Lee’s Summit concern some residents

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A desire to grow versus the people who already call Lee's Summit home.

Residents in that Jackson County city, home to over 90,000 people, are buzzing about two words -- eminent domain.

City leaders say they want to do what's best for downtown Lee's Summit. Plans to expand the city's downtown core have some residents concerned this plan might end up costing them their homes.

Last week, Lee's Summit's city council approved a plan to bring more people downtown, not just as shoppers, but to live there as well and make downtown more walkable.

Bob McKay, the city's planning and codes administrator, says eminent domain is typically used in public projects. The Downtown Master Plan is classified as private.

“We like to be successful without doing harm. I think that's a big key,” McKay told FOX 4 News.

“The idea is to bring people downtown. Let them live downtown. Let them shop downtown.”

That's no comfort to people living around the downtown area.

Paul Mathews and his wife haven't lived downtown for long. Mathews says he was once forced to move from another Lee's Summit address due to an eminent domain project.

“You know the old saying: you can't fight city hall,” Mathews shrugged. “I love Lee’s Summit. I think it's a great town, but using eminent domain to get what you want, I don't think that's right.”

On the other hand, Samantha Thomas lives across the street from the Mathews in a home her father owns. She says the family held onto this old house in hopes the city would move in.

“It's the closest house to downtown Lee’s Summit,” Thomas said. “(That could mean) another business. Adding on to downtown Lee’s Summit. Making it bigger.”

McKay says there would be no surprises, and city leaders plan to hear from the public soon. He says he anticipates a series of public meetings, but none of those are scheduled as of yet.

McKay also tells FOX 4 News he could foresee work on the expansion project by summertime. However, he says that's a best-case scenario, as the city is concerned.