In a series of stories, The Raymore Journal will provide residents with a detailed overview of community development projects. This second installment of the series will focus on one specific project: the Allera subdivision and its novel live/work concept.
A proposed 170-lot single-family residential subdivision called Allera will “provide quality, diverse housing options.” However, the proposal has two city council members butting heads.
In April, the Raymore City Council approved Clayton Properties Group’s rezoning request for 52 acres of land located west of Dean Ave. and south of Johnston Drive. That area is now considered a Planned Unit Development (PUD) District. Previously, it was zoned as a Single-Family-Residential Planned District (R-1P). More on that below.
Clayton Properties Group may sound familiar to some. The company is also behind the proposed Sendera subdivision featured in the first story of this series. Clayton Properties Group is a subsidiary of Clayton Homes. Based in Maryville, Tenn., Clayton Homes is among the largest builders of manufactured housing in the nation and is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
If the current plan reaches the finish line, Summit Homes will build nearly 200 homes ranging 1,100-2,600 square feet in size on lots ranging from 4,725 to 6,500+ square feet. Prices range from $250,000 to $450,000, according to information provided during a “Good Neighbor” meeting in March.
Those 170 lots cover the vast majority of the Allera development plan that spans east of Outer Road, south of Johnston Drive, west of Dean Ave. and north of Lucy Webb Road. However, Clayton Properties Group is selling the idea of a “live/work” concept that is new to Raymore, and most council members are buying it.
The live/work component of Allera involves a relatively small portion of the development in the northeast corner. The concept includes office or commercial spaces on the ground floor, and “dwelling spaces” above the ground floor.
There are only nine such units in three buildings in the proposed plan. That one small component is the basis of rezoning from R-1P to PUD. However, rezoning to PUD also changes at least one other significant requirement.
From low to discretionary density
Rezoning to PUD also allows Clayton Properties Group to build more homes than an R-1P would allow in the same amount of space.
The property in question was rezoned from Agriculture (A) and Light Industrial (M-1) to R-1P in 2004. According to Raymore’s Unified Development Code, the purpose of R-1 zoning “is to accommodate low-density residential development and limited institutional uses compatible with surrounding residential neighborhoods.”
Some characteristics of R-1P zones include:
However, PUD zoning has the potential to undermine the low-density aspect of the R-1P zone.
PUD zoning allows a developer to include residential, commercial, office, professional services, retail and institutional uses in a single development plan. Essentially, it permits development of a project that covers multiple zones. In exchange, the city gets “platted common open space, amenities and design excellence,” according to the Unified Development Code.
Effectively, there are relatively few limitations of what kind of structures can be included in a PUD district. Unlike the R-1P zone, PUD zones do not require certain dimensional or use standards. Consequently, the 8,400 square-foot minimum lot size that was required for that area before April now includes lots as small as 4,725 square feet. Minimum yard sizes are also reduced to 25 feet (front and rear) and 5 feet (side).
The Future Land Use Map of the current Growth Management Plan designates the property as appropriate for “low density residential.”
How does Allera fit with that plan?
“The project proposes some smaller lot sizes with some of their products but is offset by providing a new product being the live/work units which would complement Benton house and the zoning for the undeveloped area to the north,” the Planning and Zoning Commission states in its proposed findings of fact submitted to the city council.
In exchange, Allera is offering Raymore the novel live/work concept, which is only nine units within three buildings at the northeast corner. In its recommendation to approve the rezoning, city staff claims the concept will “diversify the housing market by providing another alternative.”
The Planning and Zoning Commission found that Allera “largely is consistent with the original approved preliminary plat but provides more green space and an amenity package that was not originally proposed.”
The commission also points out that the property has been vacant since it was incorporated into the city. It also maintains that the “the preliminary plat that was approved in 2004 is not drastically changed by this proposed development.”
Council members spar over Allera proposal
Although rezoning to accommodate a novel development concept seems inconsequential to some, Council Member John Berendzen expressed concerns about the density of the area.
During the April 11 council meeting, Berendzen pointed out that the 5-foot side yard setbacks are half of the 10 feet required with R-1P zoning. He wanted to know what the city is getting in return for allowing Clayton Properties Group to build a “denser concept” with “more homes in the same amount of area.”
Development Services Director David Gress informed Berendzen that the city gets the new live/work concept. Furthermore, a PUD memorandum of understanding guarantees proposed amenities. In the past, the city had issues with R-1P projects not delivering what was expected. Houses would get built, but proposed amenities like a pool never came.
Developer representative Dan Foster compared Allera’s density to older parts of the metro area, particularly Brookside. Homes in that area are closer together. Foster also said that smaller lots mean smaller yards. Allera’s target demographic does not necessarily want to maintain a large yard, Foster explained.
The council voted 7-1 to approve the rezoning, with Berendzen being the lone dissenter. Immediately after the vote, Council Member Jay Holman offered Berendzen to explain his vote.
During his closing comments, Berendzen made it clear that he is excited to see that part of the city get developed. He also said there is a lot to like about the proposal, including the live/work concept. However, Berendzen takes issue with the density of homes.
“I don’t think we have to let these developers squeeze in more homes,” Berendzen said.
Berendzen is fine with a portion of Allera allowing smaller lots, but he finds a rezoning and memorandum of understanding allowing smaller setbacks “a bit of a reach.” Although Berendzen believes Allera will be a great neighborhood, he feels Raymore could get a great neighborhood with the R-1P district. Berendzen said he is echoing what many constituents have expressed to him.
Holman’s comments communicated a different narrative.
“It is very apparent to me with the citizens of Raymore returning four of the five sitting council members to the dais, it just reaffirms to me that the 22,000-plus citizens of Raymore approve of what we have been doing and what we will continue to do,” Holman said.
During the April 25 council meeting approving the second reading of the rezoning request, Holman shot back at Berendzen’s dissenting vote from the previous meeting.
Specifically, Holman criticized Berendzen’s reasoning, which Holman characterized as “cramming houses in there.” He called Berendzen’s comments and vote “out of order.”
“This is not a criterion to be used in making a decision on this matter,” Holman said. “In this application, we are to consider the findings of facts. Personal preference of ‘I don’t like’ is not one of those findings of facts.”
Responding to Holman’s criticism, Berendzen doubled down on his previous comments, stating that the city does not have to allow developers “to put as many homes as possible on these lots.”
“You can get as upset with me as you like,” Berendzen said. “I really don’t care, Councilman Holman. I think we’re putting too many houses on this lot. I don’t think it looks as appealing as it should, and I think this town is better than this.”
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