By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A request to rezone a piece of property at the northeast corner of 44th Street and Connecticut Avenue for a high level of commercial use did not win a recommendation for approval from the Joplin Planning and Zoning Commission.
The tract in question was recently annexed to Joplin at the request of the owner, David Powell, after the village of Leawood would not grant the commercial designation he seeks.
The zoning board, after a hearing Monday, voted to recommend to the City Council that the request for rezoning be denied because a specific plan for development was not presented. The request will go before the council next month, and that panel will make the final decision.
It is the latest development in a series of issues that Powell and other residents of Leawood have faced as commercial development spreads.
Leawood residents say their tranquil village has become pinned by metro sprawl: South Middle School on the south; the Mercy Hospital being built on the west; and now the Powell proposal on the north.
After the Mercy Hospital site was announced last year, Powell in December asked Leawood to rezone his tract from residential use to commercial. Leawood board members declined. In January, Powell asked Leawood to deannex the land, presenting a deannexation agreement that read that if the request was approved, then the village and its trustees would not be sued.
Representatives of Leawood spoke to the Joplin City Council in March when Powell proposed annexation by the city. Powell told the city that he intended to put a mix of offices and retail stores on the property. The council approved his request despite the opposition.
Property annexed to Joplin comes in with a residential designation, and the owner must request a change if different zoning is desired. Powell has asked for a C3-PD designation. City Planner Troy Bolander said the city staff recommends a C2-PD designation.
“C3 is the heaviest commercial district which allows large retail, typically where big box stores are located,” Bolander said. But the designation also can allow uses that the city would consider unsuitable for that location, such as warehouses, truck stops or large implement sales, which a C2 district would not permit. The planned district overlay would require city approval of a site plan and buffering from nearby residential property.
Bolander said as an example that the Silver Creek Galleria, located east of the Powell land, is zoned C2-PD.
Powell’s proposed use of part of the tract now includes the possibility of a convalescent-care home or hospital, Bolander said.
Three residents of Leawood spoke against the zoning.
One of them was Denny Desmond, chairman of the Leawood Board of Trustees, who also spoke against the annexation.
Desmond said that at the village’s proceedings, 58 spoke against commercial rezoning and three in favor.
“This rezoning would be another significant undesirable change in Leawood’s landscape,” Desmond read from a prepared statement at the zoning meeting. “The opposition to zoning commercial is based on public safety and welfare of the residents.” His statement cited the history of the request and the village controversy over it.
Residents Marcia Long and Vanessa Stephens also spoke against the request.
Powell could not be reached Thursday for comment.
THE LEAWOOD BOARD voted 3-2 to allow the property to be deannexed in order to avoid what village leaders called “significant litigation costs” if they did not comply with David Powell’s request.