West Plaza Association considers steps to preserve neighborhood's 'quirky charm'

Posted at 10:20 PM, Jan 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-18 23:21:17-05

As more homes are being demolished and rebuilt in Kansas City’s West Plaza neighborhood, some residents say they want to protect their neighborhood’s “quirky charm."

Members of the West Plaza Neighborhood Association voted Tuesday night to move forward and pursue an overlay district. 

“We want to be able to preserve the kind of homes that we have. We’re not against development but we do want it to be appropriate to the neighborhood,” said Julie Tenenbaum, the vice president of the neighborhood association. 

Overlay districts are enforced by cities. They set zoning and design regulations to prevent overbuilding in neighborhoods and maintain the neighborhood’s character. 

“The problem that I personally have with it is when someone comes in and builds a four-story house right next to a one-story bungalow. It overshadows it literally and figuratively,” said Tenenbaum. 

Several cities and neighborhoods across the city have established overlay districts. 

In Kansas City, there is a the Troost Corridor Overlay and the Independence Avenue Overlay District. Both, according the city’s website, are areas where “special approaches to development [are] warranted.” 

Prairie Village established an overlay in 2013 for the Countryside East neighborhood, which is situated between Roe and Nall Avenues and 63rd and 67th Streets. The overlay rules establish a sliding scale limiting the height and width of a home based on its lot size. It also establishes strict design guidelines. 

In 2015, there was an attempt to establish a similar overlay city-wide. However, it failed as opponents argued the rules could be too restrictive and discourage families from moving to Prairie Village. Instead, the city modified it’s zoning codes. Now, new or remodeled homes must abide by the city’s height and volume limits. 

“We’re not talking about things like telling people what color to paint their houses or anything like that,” said Tenenbaum. “We’re not really looking to control the details. We’re looking more towards the big picture.” 

The neighborhood association plans on holding focus groups and public meetings to get input from residents. The association will have to present its final proposal to city council for approval. The entire process could take as long as a year. 



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