by Alan McArthur
The county commission discussed several zoning issues after Platte County resident Kirby Holden gave his opinion on the issues to the commissioners.
Holden said there is a problem in the county because of spot zoning where properties zoned industrial or high density residential are being used for agriculture. Holden recommended the commission try to change the zoning to match the county's Land Use Plan.
“I wish it would have been done when the Land Use Plan was done,” said Holden.
Holden said he thinks the lawsuits against the county right now would be unnecessary if the zoning for properties matched their current uses.
Holden is active in the group opposing a proposed 686 home subdivision known as Lake at Tomahawke Ridge about four miles east of Platte City along Hwy. 92. The land the developer on which the developer is proposing to build the homes has been used for agriculture purposes for years. The area is identified as rural policy under the count’s land use plan, which means a minimum lot size of 10 acres is recommended. The developer is proposing nearly 700 homes on 300 acres.
“The overriding problem with the Land Use Plan at the time was people did not want the county saying what land should be zoned,” said Betty Knight, presiding commissioner. “They didn't want to see the county rezoning lots of property and if we did we'd be in court real quick.”
Knight said they had considered changing the zoning when the Land Use Plan was created, but people on the committee were not in favor of that.
“By doing the Land Use Plan we tried to look out for everyone's interest, and one thing people wanted was to not have the zoning changed by government,” said Knight.
Some commissioners said they thought that a property's current zoning was the most important.
“In my opinion, zoning trumps everything,” said Tom Pryor, commissioner. “You're talking about property rights here,” said Pryor, who has announced he will not seek re-election this year.
According to Knight, the Land Use Plan was created to be proactive, and she expects the county will have several lawsuits filed against it.
“I was part of the commission when the Land Use Plan was done, and make no mistake, we wouldn't have done the Land Use Plan if we did not want to be aggressive about development,” said Knight. “We have several lawsuits right now and people are becoming more aware of what's going on around them. I think we have come to a time when we'll be challenged on several fronts. I don't like lawsuits, but it is the process we have to go through.”
Another commissioner pointed out the lawsuits are not on the same issue.
“The two lawsuits are not for the same reasons,” said Jim Plunkett, commissioner. “One is a dispute over a plat and the other is a dispute over zoning. The common link is the lawyer.”
The two lawsuits were filed by attorney Jim Bowers of the law firm White Goss Bowers March Schulte & Weisenfels of Kansas City.
The first lawsuit is concerning the proposed Beverly Plaza development at 92 and 45 Highways south of Weston. The second lawsuit is about the Bridle Parc development east of Weatherby Lake.