By Sam Jack, TSnews
GODDARD – The Goddard City Council meeting on Jan. 17 ended with the resignation of Mayor Larry Zimmerman, the installation of new Mayor Hunter Larkin, the appointment of two new council members, and the firing of the city’s top non-elected official; see related story.
But before all that occurred, the meeting progressed in a more routine way. The most notable item of business was reconsideration of a zoning case that had come before the council two weeks prior: a duplex development on the northwest corner of 167th and Pawnee.
The Goddard Planning Commission voted unanimously on Dec. 12 to deny developer Paul Kelsey’s request to rezone the 69.9-acre tract to “R-2” Two-Family Residential. Then on Jan. 3, the city council voted to send the zoning case back to the planning commission to ask for clarity on what the commission felt would be an acceptable mix of duplexes and single-family homes.
At the city council meeting on Jan. 3, the council had been faced with a super-majority requirement: If they wanted to overrule the planning commission’s recommendation and approve the rezoning, they would have needed four votes.
However, the city code states that the super-majority threshold goes away if the city council sends a zoning case back to the planning commission for reconsideration. After reconsideration, when the council next hears the zoning case, approval, denial or amendment is governed by a simple majority, even if the planning commission simply restates their earlier position on a case.
That wrinkle in the law turned out to be key to winning approval for a subdivision partially made up of duplexes. After the developer’s representative presented a revised plan calling for 81 duplexes on the east side of the development, and 120 detached single family homes on the west side, the council voted 3-1 in favor of approving the rezoning, with Hunter Larkin, Larry Zimmerman and Sarah Leland voting yes, and Brent Traylor voting no.
On Jan. 3, that split vote would have fallen short of the needed super-majority, resulting in the planning commission’s recommendation for denial being upheld. But on Jan. 17, the simple majority carried the day.
When the planning commission met on Jan. 9 to reconsider the case, two commissioners stated that they felt 20 percent of duplexes in the development should be the maximum, while two others stated they would want to see only single family homes in that area, with no duplexes, according to community development director Micah Scoggan. The mix the Goddard City Council ultimately approved includes 40 percent duplexes.
During the public comment period, three residents spoke against allowing duplexes, raising concerns about the effect on value and marketability of surrounding homes, as well as the public’s overall view of the Goddard community if it is perceived as becoming dominated by duplex rentals.
“Real estate’s golden rule is location, location, location,” resident Sheila Tibbs said. “Duplexes across the street and backing up to half-a-million dollar houses is going to ruin it.”
Council members Larkin, Leland and Zimmerman seemed reassured by the information that the duplex portion of the development would be under an HOA that would take care of mowing and exterior maintenance for the entire neighborhood.
“One of the main goals of the plan to build commercial development in Goddard is to have a certain amount of rooftops,” Larkin said. “To balance that and to still take into guard what the community is saying, it’s my opinion that the developer has worked with both sides and has tried to make everybody happy, as much as possible.”
Zimmerman said that it’s best for the city to try to shape the growth of the Goddard area, rather than to try and hold it back.
“Growth is going to happen, and when that growth happens, it’s either going to come from the east, or it’s going to come through us,” he said. “We’ve got control of how many duplexes are out there. If it comes from the east, we may not have that.”
The area is now zoned for duplexes. The agreed-upon split between duplex and single-family home construction will be enforced when it’s time for the city council to approve the official plat for the neighborhood, Scoggan said.
In other more-or-less routine business:
• The council voted 4-0 to approve the final plat for the Bridger at Maple development, located on Maple between 167th and 183rd streets. The development will include 24 lots on the north end dedicated to single-family homes, and 155 lots for duplexes.
• The council voted 4-0 to approve changes to sign regulations in areas zoned C-2 General Business District. The revised ordinance allows two wall signs per building face; sets a maximum surface area of 500 feet, up from 150 feet; and sets a maximum height of 35 feet, up from 10 feet. These changes were previously approved by the planning commission and should reduce the number of requests for variances.
• The council approved, 4-0, spending $34,763.04 to replace the traffic control system at 199th and Kellogg, which helps time when the lights change based on traffic.
City staff believe that the previous system at the intersection was damaged in 2020, when the Kansas Department of Transportation milled and laid asphalt, but KDOT has refused to pay for repairs because of the amount of time between the road work and the signal failure.
• The council voted to appoint assistant city administrator Thatcher Moddie to represent Goddard on the Sedgwick County Fire District 1 steering committee. However, Moddie resigned from his job the following day, so it seems unlikely that he will continue to serve.
• The council voted, 4-0, to spend $7,350 to rehabilitate water lines at Goddard Public Library.
• The council approved, 4-0, a road closure permit and amplified-sound waiver for the Goddard Lions Club car show, April 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Main Street.