Parks plan would codify development standards


Midtown residents offered input in park and boulevard design standards last night at a meeting at MainCor.

The parks department has undertaken an unprecedented project it hopes will ensure high-quality development near parks, boulevards and parkways. Last night, Midtowners got an opportunity to see the plans and add their input.

The current park board and recent boards “have felt strongly about insisting on quality development along boulevards and parkways,” Parks Department project team member Denise Phillips explains. “The board wants to incorporate those standards into the development code.”

Although most of the development around Midtown parks and boulevards is already in place, the standards would ensure new development in the Northland, for example, is consistent across the city, so people have the same type of experience driving on a parkway in any part of Kansas City, she says.

Phillips says the standards could also apply to Midtown. They might come into play when a gas station is proposed for a boulevard or when a business wants to put in a drive-through near a parkway.

The project team has already gathered input from the park board and developed a working set of standards. In a series of three public meetings this week, it is asking for public input.  Phillips says the hope is that the proposal can begin making its way through the city approval process in March.

The project team is asking for input about these proposed standards:

  • Prohibited land uses. The city already has a list of permitted, prohibited and limited land uses by zoning district. The project team suggests adding the following land uses to the list of uses prohibited around parks and boulevards:
    • Day labor employment agencies
    • Short-term loan establishments
    • Pawn shops
    • Junk/salvage yards
    • Manufacturing, production and industrial services, intensive
    • Recycling services
    • Residential storage warehouses
    • Utilities and services, major
    • Warehousing, wholesaling freight movement
    • Waste related use
    • Wireless communication (free standing)
    • Vehicle sales and service
    • Non-accessory parking
    • Adult business and adult media (specific distance required)
    • Outdoor advertising (specific distance required)
    • Detention and correction facilities (specific distance required)
  • Design standards:  The project team suggests incorporating the Boulevard and Parkway Standards into the development code and applying the standards to properties that are adjacent and within 150 feet of parks, boulevards and parkways. It is also suggesting additional standards for specific uses such as drive-through facilities, lodging, gasoline and fuel facilities, and residential development, addressing four key issues:
    • Site organization and setback: ensure easy/safe pedestrian access; ensure delivery and services are out of sight; ensure delivery and vehicular access to rear or side; ensure more compact/urban development along boulevards.
    • Parking and vehicular use areas: ensure parking is supportive, not predominant; ensure parking is landscaped as currently required in the zoning and development code.
    • Landscaping and fencing: ensure sites are landscaped as currently required in the zoning and development code; ensure fencing along boulevards and parkways reflects the quality of the system.
    • Architectural design: ensure high quality materials and construction; ensure designs that are complementary to the existing neighborhood character; improve pedestrian experience by providing windows at street frontage; ensure roof-top equipment is out of sight.
  • Right-of-way: The project teams says it wants to encourage compact, walkable and transit-friendly commercial nodes at parkways. To do that, it suggests reducing the required minimum of 200 feet of right-of-way for parkways to 150 feet. It says this would implement area plan recommendations and make proposed commercial developments more accessible to pedestrians, especially in the Northland.

Opportunities for input

There are additional open houses tonight and tomorrow in the Northland and south Kansas City. Residents can also share input online.

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