After potential neighbors voiced their concerns about a proposed residential development in south Blue Springs, the developer will take an extra month before pitching to the City Council.
Neighbors' concerns, both at last month's Planning Commission meeting and in subsequent messages to city officials, centered on a potential subdivision of rental homes near houses for which they recently made a significant investment, as well as increased traffic. Instead of next Monday’s council meeting, Rausch-Coleman Homes out of Arkansas will go before the council in February.
Rausch-Coleman's proposed 60-acre development with 186 single-family homes would be off Major Road, just west of Adams Dairy Parkway, across the street from the Colonial Highlands subdivision and north Wyatt Road. Home sizes would range from 1,200 to 2,000 square feet, but mostly in the 1,400 to 1,800 range, a project engineer said.
Rausch-Coleman officials said it's unclear whether homes would be for rent/lease or for sale, but they hope to do the latter. The company has built in places around the country, and recently in the Kansas City, but not yet in Blue Springs.
“We want to start selling homes,” Don Draper told the Planning Commission. “To be totally forthcoming, everything we build right now (in the metro area) is for lease, but our national program is for purchase.”
“We're working to get to the point where we sell everything we build here,” he said. “We want to sell, but we can't then we lease. Our experience has been those people are fine, upstanding citizens. We feel good with that (clientele).”
Daniel Holdcroft noted later that he was about to sign papers for a $360,000 house in Colonial Highlands.
“Do I really want rentals right in my backyard?” he said.
Last month, the Planning Commission unanimously approved rezoning for the project and approved a preliminary plat on a vote of 6-3. The City Council normally doesn't vote on preliminary plats, but it will do so following a citizen appeal. On Dec. 16, the council voted to hold off on rezoning vote until it saw the preliminary plat.
Rausch-Coleman officials said they aim to build quality starter homes, but some commission members wondered how the early estimated price range of $220,000 to $250,000 would work for that.
“We would love to be $180,000, but I don't know if that's achievable,” Draper said.
Council Member Susan Culpepper, whose district includes the land in question, said she's glad to see Rausch-Coleman take more time on the matter and that it could have made a better presentation last month.
“What they said, I think it was unfortunate the way they said it, and I told them that,” Culpepper said. “He kept talking about rental, and that's what made everyone upset. If they would go talk to neighbors first, it would save some heartache, but that's their business.”
“In some states, we're seeing that,” Culpepper said of building for rental, and this company has done that, but it's usually more in urban areas and for seniors and they have amenities. I would like to see some form of amenity.”
Justin Larkin, president of JW Larkin Properties, which is scheduled to build the Hoot Owl Acres development across Adams Dairy Parkway, urged residents of Willow Trees neighborhood, which borders Hoot Owl, to oppose the plan, due to traffic and lower home-price concerns.
“Allowing rent-to-owns to come in is probably not the most idealistic thing,” Larkin told the Planning Commission.
People agree the city needs starter homes, he said, just not in this particular area.
Draper said his company does not do rent-to-own homes – just lease or purchase.
“At this time, please do not add any high-density homes in the very southeast portion of the city.” Lynn Liikala-Seymore emailed to the city, adding that some motorists turn Adams Dairy Parkway into a “raceway” in that area. “Please keep our semi-rural character.”
Culpepper said she understands the desire for some starter homes, but also the concerns of recent homeowners who want their investment to stay strong.
“I'm just pleased they're going to revisit it and hopefully bring something forward that's a little more palatable,” she said. “It's a big investment, people put their hearts and souls and wallets into their home.”