Protect Wornall Pines Traffic Safety and Greenspace
Protect Wornall Pines Traffic Safety and Greenspace
This is a petition against the multi-family development proposal on the northeast corner of 104th Terrace and Wornall Road by JPL Development LLC. Due to traffic and safety, Kansas City ordinances, water run-off and flooding issues, a lack of need, and health risks, Kansas City Planning and Development should not approve this plan to move forward.
Please see more details about the plan described below.
Plan Number: CD-CPC-2019-00114
Proposed four buildings consisting of a total of 160 multi-family units on a 6.3 acre lot on the NE corner of 104 Terrace & Wornall by JPL Development.
We write in connection with the above planning application. We have examined the plans and we know the site well. We wish to object strongly to the development of these multi-family dwellings in this location.
TRAFFIC AND SAFETY
In such close proximity to the I-435 on-ramp, development on this site should only include that which will ensure minimal added traffic to the area. According to a study conducted by the law firm of Douglas Haun Heidemann, the intersection of I-435 and Wornall was the number fifteen most dangerous intersection in Kansas City based on data from 2015. The anticipated added traffic from the 160 units will overwhelm both 104th Terrace and Wornall Road. There are numerous ways this will cause a threat to safety. There is an existing double turn lane for northbound cars on Wornall turning east into the Talisman and southbound cars turning west onto 104th Terrace. This lane causes daily problems and near head-on collisions. There have been multiple accidents here, more recently including an SUV flipped on its top. The added volume of cars turning left in this lane onto 104th Terrace to enter the proposed development would heighten the risk for accidents in this spot. Another concern is the increase in the volume of cars on 104th Terrace at one time. The developers have proposed to add a right-turn lane on 104th Terrace to ease traffic. However, this lane is only approximately ten car lengths, and that is not long enough compared to the added number of vehicles from the development that will be using this turn lane during peak hours. This causes concern for the Wornall Pines neighborhood, as well as the connecting Bridlespur and Red Bridge Hills neighborhoods. Residents of the development will be tempted to take a route through these neighborhoods instead of waiting at the 104th Terrace and Wornall intersection, which is already a current problem without the added development. With lack of sidewalks in all three neighborhoods, this will pose an enormous safety threat to pedestrians, bicyclists, children, and other vehicles in the area.
2. BOULEVARD STANDARDS
Wornall Pines is a small, tight-knit, residential neighborhood community where development proposals should be considered very carefully. The addition of this multi-family development could tarnish the character of the neighborhood, The protection of the character of the Wornall Pines neighborhood is supported by Kansas City Ordinance 88-323-03-B. Item number eight under this ordinance states, “Architectural design and materials of a multi-unit structure shall be of high quality and reflect the character of the neighborhood, as existing or proposed in accordance with an approved development plan, and applied consistently to all façades.”
The proposed plan does not reflect the character of the Wornall Pines neighborhood which consists of less than sixty uniquely designed, single family homes. In addition, the current plans are not compliant with Kansas City Ordinance 88-323-03-B which states, “A main entrance to a multi-unit residential structure or to each unit, in the case of a structure with units having individual entrances, shall face the boulevard or parkway. The side may face the boulevard or parkway; however, an additional setback is required.” The proposed plan shows the rear of a structure facing Wornall Road.
3. WATER RUN-OFF
The proposed siting of the development is particularly ill-considered: it is on a green site that provides a habitat for local wildlife, as well as a natural water drainage system. Building here would destroy this habitat. This land also plays a critical role in water drainage in an area where flooding has become a recurring threat. As a green space, much of the storm water is absorbed into the land. The addition of concrete parking lots and roofs will cause an issue with water run-off, particularly as it drains into Indian Creek north of I-435, thus affecting the livelihood of businesses and homes farther downstream. The current proposed design drains all runoff to Indian Creek, a water source that has experienced several historic floods in the past few years due to this exact reason. The development of parking lots and other hard surfaces on this property will only threaten the safety of nearby residents and businesses downstream. In addition, this will contribute to millions of dollars in property damage as natural disasters and flooding continue to become more prevalent.
4. LACK OF NEED
Furthermore, there is no need for this type of multi-family housing in this area. According to the Kansas City Business Journal, “The average asking rent for the metro area [Q3 of 2018] is $913 a month. The average for Downtown is $1,189, and for the Plaza it is $1,048. Midtown… $732 average monthly rent” (Davis). According to the developers, the asking rent for a studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom apartment will be between $1200-$1600 a month with the target market being young professionals. Supported by these numbers, young professionals are able to have that same luxury apartment in a trendy Downtown or Plaza neighborhood conveniently located near more entertainment, dining, and nightlife than is available in South Kansas City.
5. HEALTH RISKS
Another concern we have is for the health and safety of the residents that would inhabit the new development. Due to the associated health risks with living in a high traffic pollution area, the Los Angeles Times states, “...air quality officials delivered a warning to cities and counties: Avoid putting new homes in high-pollution zones within 500 feet of freeways” (Barboza and Zahniser). The article continues to state that certain design features can help decrease these risks, such as “anti-pollution features such as air filters, sound walls and thick vegetation,” none of which are currently present in the developer’s design. Development this close to I-435 also poses a health risk for pregnant women and the developing child. According to a study examining the relationship of Autism diagnoses and proximity to highway pollution, “Air pollution exposure during pregnancy has been reported to have physical and developmental effects on the fetus. High levels of air pollution, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ambient particulate matter (PM), have been associated with very low and low birth weight, preterm birth, and infant mortality” (Currie et al. 2009 and Ritz and Yu 1999 as cited in Delwiche et al. 2011). If these risks are not taken into consideration before developing on this space, serious health repercussions could follow for many individuals in the future, especially considering the current expansion of I-435 in this area to ten lanes, which means an increase in traffic and pollution.
Pressure for the development of this lot is considerable, mainly for multi-family units, but has been successfully resisted multiple times in the past, including two other cases in the past calendar year. The reasons for rejecting those proposals included the non-compliance from developers to meet all Boulevard standards required by Kansas City ordinances and an increase in the risk of already dangerous traffic, which with the added volume of vehicles from development, would only increase further.
We understand that most residents of Wornall Pines, as well as residents of Bridlespur, the Talisman, and Red Bridge Hills share these concerns, along with others.