New Kansas City Parkway and Boulevard Standards
On July 23, the KCMO City Council passed new Parkway and Boulevard standards as put forth by city planner Jeffrey Williams. The Parks and Recreation Department proposed the initial ordinance, but it drew criticism from developers as being impractical and extremely restrictive. The final version, which passed the council 13-0, contained several compromises which addressed the most problematic issue areas.
The provision most relevant to the home building industry outlines how residential units must be oriented. Houses must front onto boulevards, regardless of location or previous development patterns. However, when located on a parkway, houses may back the street as long as there is a 60 foot “no-build” buffer zone in place.
The ordinance also includes a transparency requirement that mandates commercial buildings must be 33% transparent on the ground level façade facing parkways and 60% when facing boulevards. Parking is also limited under the new standards. No front parking is allowed on boulevards while buildings on parkways are restricted to one row of front parking and one driving lane.
As far as commercial activity, drive-thru windows must be located on the sides or back of commercial buildings, never in front. Fuel stations will be regulated as well. They are prohibited on boulevards and restricted to intersections with major streets when located on parkways.
Developers asked that current projects be exempted from the new standards, to which council members agreed. The ordinance also protects restoration projects from the standards in cases where a building has been damaged or destroyed.
The intention of the new standards is to help preserve the beauty of Kansas City’s historic parkways and boulevards. The compromises put in place after consultation with developers achieve that end while ensuring these areas remain important centers of economic activity.