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Reversal: Williamsburg property stays commercial

After mayor's veto, aldermen switch decision they had made

by Shana Haines
Landmark reporter

After initially voting last month to rezone some property in Williamsburg Plaza to multi-family, the Platte City Board of Aldermen reversed that decision at a meeting Tuesday night.

The board's latest vote will keep the property zoned commercial.

During a December meeting, aldermen voted for the rezoning of the properties. Platte City's Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended against the rezoning. The commission wanted to keep the area attractive to businesses and not use the property for residential purposes.

One tract of land in question lies south of Running Horse Terrace and West of Prairie View Road. The tract is a lot that has not been platted. The other tract is lot 1 of the Williamsburg Plaza plat.

On Dec. 18, Platte City Mayor Dave Brooks vetoed the aldermen's decision to rezone the property from C-2 to R-3 and returned the issue to the board.
Alderman Lee Roy Van Lew said he didn't have all the information during December's meeting that he did during Tuesday's meeting.

"The information I have got here tonight is information that I didn't have last time we voted," Van Lew said.

Tanya Bates, Platte City clerk, told Van Lew he did have the same information at both meetings.

"I did not realize when we were talking about this at the last meeting the (county's) community center would be constructed on the same land. It is only fair that the rest of the property be restored as it was originally zoned," Van Lew added.

In December, Van Lew had voted for the rezoning.

During Tuesday's meeting, Aldermen Gary Brown, Shelle Browning, Lee Roy Van Lew, Billy Knighton and Jim Palmer voted to keep the property zoned commercially. Ron Porter voted to rezone the properties to multi-family.

In December, Aldermen Browning and Knighton were the only two wanting to keep the property zoned for commercial purposes.

The aldermen were provided with a pro/con checklist from Tom Wooddell, the city's codes and inspection officer. City Administrator Keith Moody said some elements of the rezoning appear to be appropriate, others inappropriate.

"There are more inappropriate (effects) than appropriate," Moody said, adding that "it's not a black and white issue."

Several members of the city's planning and zoning board spoke at Tuesday's meeting. All indicated they prefer the property to stay zoned for commercial uses.

Ken Brown, zoning board member, pointed out that commercial property is taxed at a higher rate than residential, and that the city will also benefit from sales taxes collected from commercial properties that it won't get from residential property.

It was also pointed out that roughly 48% of the land in Platte City is already zoned for multi-family, and some observers feel that's an excessive amount.

Doug Bohi, a representative of Crystal Rivers, the developer, said his purpose for seeking the rezoning was to build $110,000 to $170,000 townhome-type dwellings.
During December's meeting, Bohi addressed concerns from aldermen that thesubdivision would overcrowd area schools.

Bohi told alderman again on Tuesday that previous similar developments he has been involved with have not overcrowded school systems.

Supporters of the project used rooftops as a pro for the project, stating more residential units will bring in additional businesses.

Scott Laderoute of the Williamsburg Plaza Apartments stated in his opinion the Platte City area doesn't have enough rooftops to "support the businesses that it has now." He pointed out some businesses in that Running Horse Road corridor have closed.

Attorney Jim Farley spoke on behalf of the applicant and said the project investment would be near $15 million.

"It would be built in the immediate future so tax benefits would be realized in the immediate future," Farley said.

While commercial development is needed, "for commercial areas you need people," Farley said.

In other agenda items, aldermen approved a Cable Code which reflects the implication of Senate Bill 369 passed last year by Missouri Legislation.

The Cable Code is designed as a new chapter to the City Code. The code requires the city to treat cable providers in a competitively neutral fashion. Unite has indicated a desire to become a cable operator in Platte City.

A representative of Time Warner was at the meeting. He said there were approximately 50 areas of the code Time Warner had issues with and asked the board to table the item.

Despite the request, the item was approved by aldermen.

In another matter, Mayor Brooks told aldermen that he has been talking with Don Soper about the possibility of Soper donating 6.93 acres of property to the city.

The property is located north of Platte City Cemetery. Although nothing is finalized yet, Brooks said the property would be a great addition to the city and offers a good noise barrier for the north side of town.

Brooks added if the city owned the property it would be left as is and possibly house a walking trail at a later date.