The former Mission Valley Middle School has been a source of controversy in the area since its selling in June 2011. Members of the surrounding communities are worried about unsightly developments on a property that was a neighborhood school for over 50 years.
“The City Council and the mayor were not as concerned about our interests as they may have been about other things in the city as far as getting more development,” said Whitney Kerr Sr., head of the Mission Valley Neighbors Association. It was founded over a year ago to protect the neighborhood’s interests and has a mailing list of over 1,000 people.
The land, at 85 street at Mission Road, was bought by the Tutera Group in conjunction with Red Development for $4.35 million dollars. Following its selling, there were rumors of plans to build a combination of commercial retail and retirement community on the land. However, over time, the Tutera Group became the sole owners of the property.
At a meeting in the East cafeteria held on Jan. 15 by the Tutera Group, their attorney for the project, John Petersen, promised that the Tutera Group only had plans for a retirement community.
The plans that were shown to the public consisted of a combination of independent and assisted living facilities for senior citizens. The project, dubbed Mission Chateau, includes roughly three hundred single-room living spaces, designed to cater to the needs of its occupants. The developer has not filed any kind of plan to the city.
Petersen stressed that the Tutera Group would not need to get the property rezoned by the City Council. Zoning allows a property to be used for an assigned purpose. It was rezoned after it sold in May 2012 to a R1A zoning, which is for residential lots, but also allows uses like daycares and retirement communities. In order to build a retirement community, the Tutera Group must apply for a Special Use Permit. A Special Use Permit allows the developer to use the land for another use within its assigned zoning.
Over 70 people attended the Prairie Village Planning Commission Meeting at City Hall on Jan. 8, where several community members spoke up in favor of adding a protest petition the Special Use Permit approval process. A valid protest petition would make it so that the developer would have to get a supermajority of 10 votes to get the Special Use Permit. Protest petitions were only allowed in Prairie Village in conjunction with rezoning requests.
A moratorium, which restricts progress with the issue, was placed on the process for 90 days in order to give the City time to sort out the issue regarding the Special Use Permit.
The request for a protest petition passed with a 7-0 vote in the Planning Commission, allowing it to move on to the City Council. The City Council will address this issue in their next meeting on Jan. 22. If they vote on it, they will remove the moratorium on the acceptance of Special Use Permits, allow them to continue making progress.