Olathe rejects more than 60% of plans for Woodland Forest development

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OLATHE, Kan. — After more than 4 hours of public debate, only a fraction of the proposals for the Woodland Forest development will move on to the Olathe City Council. 

In the end, Olathe Planning Commission approved one of three proposals to develop land near K-10 Highway and Woodland Road. 

Clay Blair Services Corporation sought to develop roughly 55 acres of land to include 20 single family homes, a senior living facility, a 381-unit apartment complex and standalone retail space. 

The commission reviewed three separate proposals to develop the property. The property was annexed into the city of Olathe in 1999 as part of an approximately 1,300-acre area in the Woodland Corridor.

In 2004, the Woodland Plan was updated, and it was determined that the single-family designation remained as the preferred land on this property. 

In 2020, the same developer made a similar request to rezone the property as a whole, but the project was denied.

According to city documents, as of Nov. 1, the planning department received 502 letters and emails about the proposed development.

Woodland Forest Residences

The first proposal calls for the rezoning of approximately 15 acres of land at 10425 South Woodland Road from County Rural (CTY RUR) to Single-Family Residential (R-1) to develop Woodland Forest Residences.

The residential development would create 20 single family homes along the southern border of the property near the Eagle Crest neighborhood. The proposal would also create a 72-unit assisted living facility north of Woodland Road and West 105th Street.

During the public hearing, Barbara Liu, with Property Law Firm, spoke on behalf of residents in the Eagle Crest, Raven Crest and Mill Creek Farms Homeowners Association. 

“I urge you to realize the tactic that is going on. It is actually extinguishing my clients’ ability to protest,” Liu said. 

Liu said by breaking the project into three separate requests, the developer was preventing neighboring property owners from protesting the project.

Woodland Forest apartment complex

The state requires property owners within 200 feet of a proposed development be notified of the potential changes; however, based on that criteria, two of the three projects would put neighboring property owners outside the protest zone. 

Eric Neuer spoke against all three rezoning requests. Neuer said he would prefer the property be developed entirely as single family homes and feels by requesting a rezone under three separate proposals, the developer is trying to circumvent the Woodland Corridor Plan.

“These rezoning requests are being done separately to prevent the residents ability to use a protest petition. Please do not allow this to become a patchwork quilt of all sorts of different zoned areas. This needs to be developed completely as a cohesive, coherent development,” Neuer said. 

During the public hearing, Raven Crest resident Ryan Richey presented the commission with a market analysis of homes sold in the area in the last two years. With roughly 419 homes sold in the last two years, he felt the area was highly desirable for single family homes, but when considering all three types of development, it wasn’t a good fit for the area. 

“We are not against development, but we are against this proposed development,” Richey said. “We understand the developer and his team are respected, but jamming 480 plus units plus a gas station into 55 acres that quite literally cannot properly function without access to our neighborhood simply makes no sense.”

The commission approved a rezone request and preliminary site plan with a 6-1 vote with only Commissioner Douglas Wood voting to deny the request. 

“The application for this sliver of land conforms to the rules, but as I was saying the rules have the effect of undercutting this city’s overall plan for this area,” Wood said. 

Woodland Forest Apartment Homes

A second request to rezone roughly 34 acres of land to create a 381-unit apartment complex to the north of the proposed single family homes was denied 7-0. The developer requested approval for a property rezone and a preliminary site plan to create Woodland Forest Apartment Homes at 10425 South Woodland Road. 

TranSystems provided the commission with a traffic impact study for the entire project, including residential and commercial development. 

Curtis Petersen, with Polsinelli PC, spoke on behalf of the developer during the public hearing. Petersen said based on the study, traffic would likely increase by one car every minute during the morning peak travel time moving south from the complex and one car every two minutes at the peak evening travel time. 

“I don’t doubt for a moment the sincerity and the heartfelt motivation of neighbors when they speak to the traffic issues. But when we look at the facts of traffic science, and it is a science, and the city’s subject matter experts, it paints a different picture. It paints one of safety and appropriate street design,”Petersen said.  

“The traffic study highlights that our neighborhood is isolated on three sides by K-10, the railroad and an electrical substation. None of this is new information,” neighboring property owner Bryce TeBeest said. “The only thing new here is a proposal to allow a much higher density zoning in a limited space. This isn’t something that needs to happen and isn’t something that should be allowed to happen.”

Woodland Forest Shops 

The final request was also unanimously denied. The developer had requested roughly 4 acres of land be rezoned from County Rural (CTY RUR) to Community Center District (C-2) to allow for the development of the Woodland Forest Shops at 10425 S Woodland Road. 

If approved, that portion of the property would have included roughly 14,000-21,000 square feet of retail space to be used as a gas station and convenience store. 

The rezoning and preliminary site plan request for Woodland Forest Residences will progress to the Olathe City Council for final approval. 

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