Recently, the Raymore City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission held a joint meeting to make sure both are on the same page when it comes to the future of the city. What does the future of Raymore look like?
Moderated by City Attorney Jonathan Zerr, the Jan. 31 joint meeting asked the council and commission to answer and discuss four questions about the future of Raymore. The idea behind the exercise is to ensure that city staff and officials are steering the boat in the same direction. Topics of discussion include 58 Highway and housing in Raymore.
Towards the end of the meeting, Zerr explained the role of the Planning and Zoning Commission, which is to make sure that proposals are in line with the Unified Development Code. During public hearings, the commission is to look for “valid opposition,” according to Zerr. Essentially, any opposition to a proposed project needs to be based on failure to follow the Unified Development Code.
Furthermore, the commission is advised to ignore the ratio of opponents at any given public hearing. Essentially, the commission is being told not to play into the Not In My Backyard crowd.
However, that does not mean Raymore residents’ more personal objections will not be heard. For complaints based more on lifestyle (e.g. not wanting to live near a certain kind of development), the city council has much more discretion when making a decision.
Simply put, if residents oppose a certain project for reasons other than failing to follow code, take it to the city council. Residents’ voices are being heard when they are speaking out, both at public hearings and the ballot box. Send your thoughts on the following questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. A follow-up story will compare the answers of residents and city leaders.
What would be your perfect vision of 58 Highway?
Ask any resident to complain about something involving Raymore, and 58 Highway will likely pop up. How do Raymore city leaders see the future of 58 Highway?
Commissioner Mario Urquilla shifted the focus to the section of 58 Highway east of County Road J. As many Raymore residents know, motorists can go drive 35 mph or 60 mph on that stretch road, depending on who is driving in front of them. That kind of uncertainty also causes safety concerns for residents in the area. Urquilla would like to see consistent traffic flow, which may be realized once the roundabouts are installed.
City Manager Jim Feuerborn highlighted pedestrians. More specifically, pedestrian safety needs to be addressed when discussing plans for 58 Highway.
Commissioner Eric Bowie emphasized the need to make sure that whatever decisions are made today are in line with how the city envisions the eastern portion of 58 Highway. However, that vision is not clear. With a new storage facility built, is that area going to be considered industrial or are there more residential plans?
On the other hand, one vision of 58 Highway is clear and universal: A traffic mitigation plan needs to be in place.
What areas do you think the council and commission can fix?
Two topics dominated this discussion: An overpass at Lucy Webb and “attractive alternatives.”
Urquilla kicked off the conversation by suggesting an overpass at Lucy Webb to Mullen Road near the Belton Hy-Vee. Why? Connectivity that benefits both Raymore and Belton. Residents of each city have plenty of reasons to go to the other city. However, many motorists are hesitant to deal with 58 Highway to make the drive. An overpass could provide quicker access to each city for those needing to go further out than the heavily commercialized portion of 58 Highway right off Interstate 49.
On a related note, Councilmember Reginald Townsend suggested the need for more “attractive alternatives.” Townsend was referring to connectors throughout the city, not just to the Belton area. Access to the city in some areas is less than inviting. New or improved connecting roads is another investment that benefits both Raymore and nearby cities.
Bowie shifted the conversation to roundabouts and Willowwind. Specifically, several roundabouts in Raymore can use some beautification. As for Willowwind, Bowie simply said he wishes there was a way to fix it, i.e. make it look nice, inviting and modern.
What do you envision as the perfect housing scenario in Raymore?
Multi- and single-family homes. Apartments and lofts. What may the housing situation in Raymore look like 5-10 years from now?
Councilmember Thomas Circo explained a “chicken or the egg” scenario. Do more housing options bring in more businesses or vice versa? Circo said the council learned years ago that housing comes first. The city has followed that philosophy with diverse housing that includes various types of rentals, including apartments and luxury lofts.
Councilmember Joseph Burke’s personal experience is an anecdote that supports those claims. Burke remembers moving to Raymore thinking he could never afford to live in the area he lives in now. He pointed out that people’s housing needs change as they age. Burke suggested that Raymore has options for every stage of life.
Mayor Kristofer Turnbow highlighted the city’s use of development agreements to ensure developers stay in line with Raymore’s vision. For the most part, these agreements prevent developers from going beyond what they city approved. For example, the city has inspection privileges at the upcoming Watermark property for 23 years. Any changes to that property must be approved by the city.
This is welcoming news to Councilmember Kevin Barber. He moved to Raymore 22 years ago to a housing development that promised a pool, lake, and other features. However, the developer never followed through. Barber resisted moving to Creekmoor when houses started to become available, explaining he needed to wait for the subdivision to develop lest he have a repeat scenario. Today, Barber said, that scenario is likely to never play out again thanks to development agreements.
What do you envision when you think of a vibrant Raymore?
This broad question received a wide variety of answers ranging from infrastructure to shopping and concerts.
Barber mentioned economic growth, maintaining infrastructure, a good park system are all good starts. Barber said the city should make people want to come here and live.
Commission Chair Matthew Wiggins said there should be more reasons to live in Raymore, including parks, restaurants, businesses, etc. Wiggins would like the city to be seen as more than just a bedroom community. Jumping off from that, Urquilla mentioned that there needs to be diverse housing options to make sure those working in the city’s service industry can also afford to live, work and play as expressed in Raymore’s vision statement: “Dedicated to being a quality community in which to live, work, and play.”
Townsend emphasized access and transportation. Commissioner Jerry Faulkner focused on community events, including concerts, festivals, etc.
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