June 23, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

OP councilman says apartment complex approval violates ordinance

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The recent approval in the Overland Park City Council of a 413-unit apartment complex is another example of undue influence by developers and city bureaucrats in the development process, according to one of its detractors.

Councilman Faris Farassati denounced deviations to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that governs the dimensions to which a property must adhere to receive city approval.

While deviations to development proposals are allowed, Farassati cites them as another example of his claim that a “shadow government” made up of development interests and unelected city staffers work together to pressure Council members to approve projects.

Farassati cites five Deviation Criteria from the UDO that must be met for approval of adjustments in city ordinances. If any cannot be answered with a “Yes”, Farassati maintains the project cannot be approved:

  • Is the property to be developed considered “unique” in the area?
  • Are the rights of adjacent property owners being respected?
  • Is there an unnecessary hardship on the current owner of the property?
  • Is the health, safety and general welfare of the public being protected?
  • Is the spirit and intent of the city ordinance being followed?

The councilman claims the first, third, and fifth criteria on this list are not reflected in this apartment development and should be answered “No”, prompting rejection of the project.

Another deviation to the city code requested by developers for the project at 135th and Antioch was a building length of more than two times what is allowed by the ordinance. Farassati says city staff had no objection to the adjustment and joined developers in urging Council approval of the project.

“I am in firm belief that such attitude is a threat to the democratic nature of OP government’, said Farassati.

Councilman Farassati lamented the future of development in his city:

“I’m wondering what the next ordinance will be that developers want ignored?”

The Overland Park Planning Commission meets on January 9th to discuss changes in the Deviation Criteria.

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