Shawnee leaders reject proposed apartment, townhome development after petition

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SHAWNEE, Kan. — Shawnee city leaders rejected a rezoning and preliminary development plan for Woodsonia West on Monday by a 4-4 vote.

The city needed a super-majority of votes to give approval to the 384-apartment, 42-townhome development after 40% of surrounding neighbors filed protest petitions.

Before the vote, Mayor Michelle Distler said other developers had threatened to take their projects elsewhere if Woodsonia West wasn’t approved.

“If this isn’t approved, it’s not just this development that is impacted. I have been flat out told by two developers personally if this development doesn’t go through, we are not bringing our development to Western Shawnee, period,” Distler said.

The development would have gone in the area of Johnson Drive and K-7.

Neighbors opposed the project going from medium to high density and had concerns about building height and traffic.

“I’m thankful that we had the super majority, so it did not pass tonight in its current form. It is part of trusting the process. No matter what anyone says, government works and you just trust the process and you do it the right way,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, who launched the petition drive.

Many neighbors said they would prefer to have restaurants and shopping in the area, something the mayor said wouldn’t happen without higher population density like nearby Lenexa.

“You don’t have the density. That’s all we hear is that they are not going to bring their businesses to a place that does not have the traffic to support it,” Distler said.

A frustrated attorney representing the developer for Woodsonia West said they’d return to the drawing board despite not getting a good idea from the council what changes would be needed in order to get the project approved.

 “It’s a serious problem unfortunately with development it costs a lot of money just to get to the point we got to tonight, and there’s a lot of developers who won’t invest that kind of the money with the vote,” Pete Heaven said.

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