UPDATE: Olathe city leaders approve proposed housing development causing controversy for nearby homeowners

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UPDATE: At an Olathe Planning Committee meeting Tuesday night, city leaders approved the new housing development 7-0 but did so with the lower density stipulation of 2.3 lots per acre.


OLATHE, Kan. -- Fingers are crossed in one affluent Johnson County neighborhood.

People living near Woodland Elementary School are fearful of proposed new construction, saying too many homes might ruin their existing neighborhood. The Olathe City Council is due to make a final ruling on that proposal during a Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday night.

A developer from Johnson County said the new construction is just what Olathe needs. However, residents said the proposed extension to the Woodland Hills subdivision isn't a good fit.

"Sometimes, cities miss their mark," Greg Prieb, president of Prieb Homes, said Tuesday.

Prieb, a third-generation Olathe-based homebuilder, said he wants to use a 34.6-acre tract of land located near 115th Terrace and Woodland to build 97 new single-family homes. The plan amounts to an extension of the Woodland Hills neighborhood and intends to build 2.8 lots on each acre.

"Every single box we check, we've checked off; it fits for Woodland Hills. This is exactly what the city has wanted for this area," Prieb told FOX 4 News.

However, in November, city leaders in Olathe asked Prieb to build fewer homes in that proposed construction -- 79 to be exact, with larger lots. The city's counterpropsal asked Prieb Homes to allow for a residential density of 2.3 lots per acre instead.

The city heard concerns from existing homeowners who want to keep traffic near Woodland Elementary School to a minimum. Two homeowners told FOX 4 News they're concerned the new development could bring too much traffic to the school-centered neighborhood, and overcrowding, in general, could affect the value of their homes.

"Anytime you do anything development-wise, it's going to add a little bit of traffic," Prieb said.

A series of railroad tracks sit just to the east of the proposed expansion. Prieb said the city's plans don't take the busy train tracks into consideration. Requiring bigger lots, according to Prieb, would result in building larger homes outside his planned $450-600,000 price point. He said noise and pollution from the railroad won't be attractive to buyers of pricier homes.

"I don't see why people are going to want to build $800,000 houses next to railroad tracks," Prieb said. "Olathe has been pushing for $500,000-600,000 houses, and there are railroad tracks there. Our competition -- Forest View and Cedar Creek -- are there, and they don't have railroad tracks."

Neighbors living in the nearby Woodland Hills Reserve Neighborhood told FOX 4 News they don't want the hassles that will come with new home construction. They fear their streets, which are currently home to 31 houses, will become a high-speed cut-through for traffic headed for the new development.

"I just have my finger crossed that it doesn't go through," said Stacey Hackler, a Woodland Hills Reserve homeowner. "Ideally, it would be voted down. If it was not voted down, it would be smaller, and they could come up with their own entrance into their neighborhood. Piggybacking off our neighborhood or the school doesn't seem like a good solution."

Prieb Homes held a series of informational meetings, which according to Greg Prieb, were sparcely attended.

"I think it's ridiculous. A difference in 20 houses and traffic. Is that's what it's after?" Prieb said.

If the council passes Prieb's plan, he said his firm could break ground as early as fall 2018.

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