Planned Unit Developments, explained
By Raymore Journal staff
A topic the city council recently discussed was Planned Unit Developments, or PUDs. The term may sound familiar to anyone paying attention to recent development proposals, but what is it?
That was the question Development Services Director David Gress answered for city leaders. With PUDs popping up in some proposals, including the Allera subdivision featured in last week’s “Projects across Raymore” series, decisionmakers likely have some questions regarding the relatively new zoning district.
A PUD is a catch-all zone for development projects that do not neatly fit the mold of the more traditional residential and commercial zones. Developers working with a PUD zone have flexibility not afforded with traditional zones. Those zones have clearly defined standards that cannot be tweaked, including setbacks, lot sizes, heights, etc.
Although it sounds like developers get to draw on a clean slate, including drawing concerns, there are plenty of benefits to the city.
Introduced to the city’s Unified Development Code in 2009, Raymore defines a PUD district as:
“…a special purpose district that is intended to encourage the unified design of residential, commercial, office, professional services, retail and institutional uses and facilities or combinations thereof in accordance with an approved comprehensive development plan. This district provides for flexibility in the design of buildings, yards, courts and circulation in exchange for the provision of platted common open space, amenities and design excellence.”
Essentially, PUD zones are a quid pro quo deal between developers and the city. Developers get more freedom with their project, while the city gets guaranteed common open space, pools, HOAs or architecture that is less cookie-cutter and more outside the box.
Some people may find issues with that deal. Take the Allera subdivision project for example.
Council Member John Berendzen expressed concerns about the density of the area, which is made possible by rezoning the area from Single-Family-Residential Planned District (R-1P) to PUD. Specifically, R-1P zones require 10 feet for side yard setbacks. PUD zoning requires only 5 feet, allowing developers to squeeze in more lots.
On the other hand, PUD zoning allows Allera’s novel live/work concept that puts dwelling units on top of commercial units. No traditional zone allows a mix use of that nature.
When it comes to residential areas within a PUD district, potential residents of the new neighborhood receive guarantees that do not exist with traditional residential zones. Some Raymore residents probably wish they had those guarantees when they moved into a new subdivision.
During the workshop session, City Manager Jim Feuerborn mentioned a nightmare scenario that occurred with residents of subdivision just north of city hall. Developers told the city that certain amenities would be included when proposing the project. However, they reneged on those options, leaving new homebuyers without what they thought they were paying for.
That scenario was possible because of residential zoning procedures. As long as developers keep with the basic proposed layout and meet certain bulk/dimensional standards, the city has to approve the final plat or risk a lawsuit. If a developer mentions an HOA and a pool when getting early approval but don’t deliver, there is nothing the city can do.
Conversely, a PUD zoning request requires the developer to submit a preliminary development plan. That development plan is usually accompanied by a memorandum of understanding with the city by the time it reaches the Planning and Zoning Commission. The MOU may include certain amenities, legally binding the developer to include them in the final plans.
There are pros and cons to a PUD district. Which one outweighs the other is all in the details of each project.
Worth considering: Creekmoor is the largest PUD district in the Raymore.