Despite strong objections from Mission Valley developers, Prairie Village is moving forward on an ordinance allowing residents to file protest petitions in regard to special-use permits.
Currently, protest petitions are only allowed regarding rezoning requests. Residents asked the City Council to amend the city’s ordinance at the Nov. 5 meeting, saying protest petitions are allowed in cases of special-use permits in nearly every Johnson County city. A valid protest petition requires a three-fourths vote of the council rather than a simple majority.
At Monday night’s meeting, the council approved wording for the protest petition ordinance, which will be forwarded to the Planning Commission for consideration on Dec. 5. The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the ordinance on Jan. 8. The ordinance will then be sent to the council for approval.
The council voted 7-5 on Nov. 5 to place a 90-day moratorium on all special-use permit applications to allow time to study the permit issue.
John Petersen, an attorney with Polsinelli Shughart representing Mission Valley developers, said developers attempted to file an application for a special-use permit for a senior living development on the former Mission Valley Middle School site the day after the Nov. 5 meeting. The city would not accept the application because of the moratorium.
“It’s clear that action taken on Nov. 5 was targeted to stop the filing of my client’s application and make it more difficult to be approved,” he said.
Petersen said the moratorium ordinance was not legally enacted and should be rescinded. He said that no notice was given to the public and the item was not on the council agenda. Additionally, he said, the ordinance was approved the same night it was introduced and was published within 12 hours.
“Based on a handful of citizens, a moratorium was passed with very little discussion,” he said. Petersen said the city should not “trample on the property rights of corporate citizens to meet the demand of a few.”
He added that Kansas case law states that a moratorium cannot be used to stop or stall a particular project. “According to the Kansas attorney general a moratorium must be done in good faith and without discrimination,” he said.
Prairie Village City Attorney Catherine Logan said passing the ordinance on the same night it was introduced did not make it invalid.
“I very much resent the implication that the ordinance was drafted before the meeting and intentionally not placed on the agenda,” she said.
She said there was “no nefarious purpose” in publishing the ordinance within 12 hours, adding that she would inform the council if she had concerns about its effectiveness. “The city is being threatened with a lawsuit,” she added.
Petersen said developers would continue to move through the application process. “We’re not going away and we won’t back down,” he said. “We demand that we be treated like every other special-use permit.”