Kansas Area Council Summary: Teardowns/Rebuilds
The increased teardown and rebuild activity in local neighborhoods proved to be a popular topic as more than 70 HBA members attended the June 22nd Kansas Area Council meeting. Panelists who shared their knowledge of the process were: Leawood Building Official Travis Torrez, Prairie Village Building Official Mitch Dringman, Assistant City Administrator of Prairie Village Wes Jordan, and HBA member and custom home builder Jim Lambie. Laura Wassmer, Mayor of Prairie Village, also attended the event and Rocky Rhodes, Kansas Area Council chairman, shared his experience with building in these cities.
One topic of discussion was the new ordinance that Prairie Village city council members approved on June 20 which establishes rules for new construction. The rules were developed in a series of meetings held over several months with neighborhood associations, developers, architects and home builders. Leawood has an existing ordinance which applies to teardown/rebuilds. In both cases, new construction must comply with height restrictions, grade changes, drainage issues and setback rules. The panelists all agreed that communication between the builder and city officials before final plans are submitted is crucial to a smooth permitting process.
Lambie stressed the importance of communicating with residents of the neighborhood before and during construction. Because building in an established area can lead to problems with noise, parking, work start times, fence encroachments and traffic, developing a good relationship with all the neighbors can alleviate conflict between the builder, the property owner and nearby residents.
In response to a question about the buyers of teardown properties, Lambie stated that his customers have been in the 30 to 35-year age range with one or two children. They are drawn to older neighborhoods by the large trees, good schools, and easy walkability to shopping and restaurants.
In summary, city officials are pleased that “Prairie Village is the new cool place to live” and believe that continued re-development of the housing stock will allow these neighborhoods to retain the charm that attracts residents and also remain viable cities for the future.