KC Council considering controversial proposal to allow homes to be built closer together

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A controversial measure to allow Kansas City homes to be built closer together is once again being put on hold.

On Wednesday, the city's neighborhood planning and development committee heard from people both for and against the idea.

An empty lot at 19th and Jefferson is what started this debate. It's 25 feet wide and, by the city's standards, is therefore considered "non-conforming."

Current city code requires homes be built on lots 30 feet wide, and if one person owns more than one adjacent lot, they all get lumped together.

The proposal to change those rules would make it easier to build on narrower lots and to split existing lots. The whole idea behind it is to encourage more development on smaller, vacant lots in the city's urban core.

Many of those against the proposal would like to see more infill development. But they want assurances that new construction would be in keeping with historic neighborhoods, so tall and thin mansions don't get stuck there and price people out of the community.

Those supporting the measure think it's possible for there to be both historic and new homes side-by-side -- without issue.

"Home is a very precious word, and a lot of people work very, very hard to get one and to maintain it," one woman opposed to the ordinance said Wednesday. "And this ordinance does very little, extremely little to protect the homes already in place that preserve cultural memory and that keep Kansas City as interesting and diverse as it is."

"We love the idea of more infill. We do believe it creates a more sustainable neighborhood, and there's opportunities for both affordable and non-affordable housing to occur. This is the freedom we have in this country to allow and pursue both of those dreams," a man supporting the ordinance proposal said.

This issue first came before a council committee back in July. Several neighborhood meetings have been held since then to gather feedback.

Now, there are brand new council members considering the measure for the first time.

As a result, Mayor Quinton Lucas asked the neighborhoods committee hold off on taking action during Wednesday's meeting and to set a joint meeting with the housing committee in a week. If approved, it will then go before the full city council for a vote.

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