After the Blue Springs City Council decided last week to table a proposed south-end residential development, the matter will come up again at Monday's meeting.
On Feb. 19, due to protest petitions, the council unanimously voted to delay a decision on rezoning for the Cambridge Park development next to the Colonial Highlands neighborhood, just west of Adams Dairy Parkway Parkway and north of Southeast Major Road.
The city had received some petitions about the planned 180-home development over 60 acres, as several neighbors have voiced concerns about potential rental houses and negative effects on their own property values.
But neighbors also claimed not all who own property within 185 feet of the development had been notified about the potential rezoning. City staff said they had sent notices based on Jackson County property records, which turned out to be not up to date because the Colonial Highlands development has also been recent.
Presuming enough protest petitions are turned in, rezoning would require a two-thirds council majority – at least five of the seven on the council. Mayor Carson Ross told citizens that any further petitions had to be submitted in enough time for city staff to review and validate them for the record.
Jesse Fulcher, director of land planning for Rausch-Coleman, told the Planning Commission on Feb. 10 the company can rent homes, as they have been doing in some other developments elsewhere, but would try to sell if they believed they could.
Later, in an email to Susan Culpepper, one of two council members who represents the area in question, Fulcher said, “As the Cambridge Park development begins, we have every intention of selling the homes, as the marketplace supports those transactions.”
Council members are not allowed to vote on rezoning based on whether homes might be rentals or owner-occupied, a point Ross made more than once during last week's public hearing.
Rausch-Coleman, which is based in Arkansas, has said it plans to market the homes as starter houses. Fulcher explained to the council that a lower-priced starter house near a $350,000 home shouldn't negatively affect the latter, as home values are based on per square foot and also include the interior.
In December, the Planning Commission approved Raush-Coleman's original rezoning application and preliminary plat, but citizen appeals then would have forced to council to vote on the preliminary plat in addition to rezoning.
Rausch-Coleman decided to take an extra month and go back to the Planning Commission with a slightly different plan – a handful fewer homes, larger minimum square footage at 1,400 and more green space. The commission also approved that plan and rezoning.
“I feel like we've checked the boxes and done our best to address concerns,” Fulcher said. “We're trying to get approval to build a single-family (home) subdivision.”
Connie Kolie, one of the neighbors opposed, said she had saved for years for her home and did her “due diligence” when she inquired about potential zoning and development nearby, “and now it's all changing in six months.” She had urged the council to delay its vote until all neighbors had been notified and given a chance to oppose it.
“These are people's life savings, our biggest investment,” she said. “You're playing with it, and I don't like it.”