A proposal for an apartment complex in Shawnee that has faced heated opposition from many of its potential neighbors is headed back to the full city council for a second time.
After a short discussion of the traffic projections, the Shawnee Planning Commission reiterated its support of the Vantage at Shawnee project Monday night, voting 9-2 to allow the rezoning that would pave the way for the project.
The council had asked planning commissioners to further discuss the matter after a long meeting last month in which many of the project’s nearest neighbors showed up to oppose it. However the planning commission did not allow public comment for its second look at the project on Monday. The commission heard neighbors’ objections at its November meeting.
The $35 million project, on vacant land near West 62nd Street and Pflumm Road, won approval from the planning commission in November, but ran into trouble when the full council took it up Dec. 15. At that meeting, which ended after midnight, council members could not reach consensus on whether to approve it, so they sent it back to the planning commission for further review.
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The preliminary plan put forth by America First Real Estate Group of Omaha calls for 312 apartment units in 14 buildings. The development would be gated, with electronic access. Also included in the plans are a swimming pool, clubhouse, dog park and walking trails.
The plan has been opposed by many nearby residents, who have shown up at public hearings to voice concerns about traffic flow and the impact on schools. Some have worried that the developer could later turn the area into low-income housing.
America First representatives have pledged not to do that. The apartments would be high-quality, with a small one-bedroom unit renting for $750 and a three-bedroom unit for about $1,300, they said.
The Vantage area was originally planned for a senior housing complex called Cobblestone, which got approval for a tax increment financing district in 2008 but never got off the ground. The Vantage developers have not asked for any public financing of the current project, however.
Increased traffic and potential backups at the Vantage entrance on Pflumm Road were some of the neighbors’ top concerns at previous meetings and the only focus of the planning commission discussion Monday.
Curt Petersen, representing the developers, said a traffic study of the area projected substantially less traffic from the Vantage proposal than would have been generated by the Cobblestone plan, which was approved. The Vantage would generate about 20 percent less traffic during morning peak hours and 55 percent less during afternoon peak hours, compared to Cobblestone, according to the numbers Petersen presented.
Commission Chairman Augie Bogina said he trusted the traffic engineers’ projections about flow patterns at the entrance at Pflumm and 62nd Street. “I have no reason to doubt these traffic engineers as far as what they have come up with on the plans,” he said.
Because neighbors have filed a protest petition on the plan, it will need a seven-vote supermajority to be approved by the full council.