Independence Planning Commission members bid farewell to commission vice chairman David Roberts at his final meeting Tuesday evening. Roberts, a former commission chairman who served an appointed 15 years, represents a breadth of technical knowledge with his background as a civil engineer, current and former commission members said.

They plan to keep his phone number close by.

Independence Planning Commission members bid farewell to commission vice chairman David Roberts at his final meeting Tuesday evening. Roberts, a former commission chairman who served an appointed 15 years, represents a breadth of technical knowledge with his background as a civil engineer, current and former commission members said. 

“He knows everything,” said Independence attorney and commission member Karen DeLuccie. “He knows all of the technical aspects on land use development. Dave grew up around land use.”

An Independence native, Roberts said he remembers viewing his first home movie as that of an Independence Planning Commission meeting. His father, Paul, served on the commission in the late 1950s and was later elected to City Council in the late 1960s.

David Roberts’ childhood memories include his father showing him subdivisions in Independence and across the Kansas City area. Paul, who died in November 2000, was a partner in Andes and Roberts Construction, as well as Carefree Enterprises.

“This would be a Saturday or a Sunday activity,” David said, laughing. “He would take the whole family, and it would be a trip to see a movie, but in the course of it, we’d also visit two or three locations.”

Commission member Jerry Kacheroski, now entering his fifth year, said he considers Roberts a mentor. If Kacheroski had one question for city staff at planning commission meetings, he said, Roberts also had that one question, along with four or five others. 

“Dave knows it so well that he can look at an area and tell you where the stormwater is going to drain in,” Kacheroski said. “The guy is absolutely unbelievable. He’s a heck of a technical expert on a lot of things.”

Among the community development projects approved during Roberts’ tenure include the Midwest Genealogy Center, the Drumm Farm residential development, Bolger Square, Bass Pro, Eastland Business Center, Independence Events Center, Blue Ridge Bank at Eastland, Hartman Heritage Center and Centerpoint Medical Center. Roberts works fulltime as a civil engineer for the city of Leawood (Kan.)

“If you ever had a question, you would ask David Roberts,” DeLuccie said. “Often times before I would vote, if I had a question, I’d turn to David and say, ‘What do you think?’ because he had so much superior knowledge.”

City council members plan to vote Monday night on a resolution that would appoint Independence attorney Kelvin Fisher as the replacement for Roberts’ unexpired term through July. Roberts said he resigned six months early because of other volunteer responsibilities. 

“I just felt like I had been on and served long enough. I found myself continually being exhausted at the weekends and wanted to trim a few things,” Roberts said. “I felt like I had served enough time and felt like I should give others the opportunity to do that.”

In his advice to fellow and future commission members, Roberts said to keep an open mind and to listen to developers’ proposals.

“I’ve been surprised at the meetings many times as things have unfolded and finished making up my mind on how to vote,” he said.

And what about commission members’ desire to keep Roberts’ number handy? 

“Well, yes, I’d be happy to do that,” he said of offering advice. “I’m sure they’ll do fine and make good decisions, but I wouldn’t mind giving my opinion in a general way.”