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Leawood residents afraid proposed development jeopardizes green space

Leawood Backyard
Posted at 10:30 PM, Oct 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 00:20:26-04

LEAWOOD, Kan. — Those who drive down State Line Road and make a turn onto West 86th Terrace in Leawood will find a retreat from city living. It's a space where Holly Stetler's children bring their imagination to life and where she connects with nature.

"We love sitting in our backyard and listening to the cicadas and the crickets and owls," Stetler said.

But her pocket of tranquility might not look the same in the near future.

The city has been presented with a proposal to build 189 apartments and nearly 100,000 square feet of office and retail space in the parking lot across the street from the Ward Parkway Center and right next to Stetler's backyard, as well as her neighbors'.

"The scope of the building is much larger than our modest ranch homes," Homeowner Lisa Battani said.

Homeowners who spoke to 41 Action News on Sunday said they are worried they'll lose their luscious green space, especially the trees.

"That’s really the space that most of use just for leisure and beauty," Battani said. "It does a tremendous job, believe it or not, of blocking the sound from State Line [Road]. And I think if even a small number of those trees go, we will have more noise."

They've expressed their concerns to the developers.

Doug Weltner, with State Line 87 LLC ,told 41 Action News over the phone on Sunday the project is so early in the process they aren't ready to comment publicly but are working directly with homeowners.

Stetler said they aren't opposed to development or improving Leawood, but don't want to "look straight out onto a huge apartment building."

Battani agreed,

"It would be nice if it was done in a way that it respects the integrity of the neighborhood, keeps the green space, because we really don't have green space anywhere close to us that we can use," she said.

Meanwhile, management at the Ward Parkway Center said in a statement that they are looking forward to the project.

"The Weltners have created some extraordinary developments around the metro area, and we are certain this will be on par with those," the statement read. "While we don’t have all the details, we anticipate a residential project like this to bring a wonderful 24/7 energy to the area."

The homeowners will have a chance to speak with the developers once again during a Zoom meeting scheduled for Monday night. A planning commission meeting will take place Oct. 27 at Leawood City Hall.