Letter from the President of the Longfellow Community Association
Greetings Fellow Residents:
This week many of you will receive or have already received a notice from the City Planning Department regarding a hearing to consider an "Special Character Overlay District" on Troost.
I understand that the city communication can be confusing and a bit cryptic to be honest. I don't know why all of their notices are written this way but hey, I can't write their notices.
What I can do is attempt to translate it into everyday English for everyone:
1) The City DID NOT initiate this process.
It's important to understand that this is a process that began nearly two years ago by RESIDENTS along Troost.
Longfellow, Beacon Hill, Hyde Park, Center City, Squier Park, and Mannheim Park are the neighborhoods that make up the east and west borders of Troost. All of these neighborhoods associations formed the Troost Neighborhoods Coalition specifically to deal with development along Troost.
2) Troost is TOO IMPORTANT for residents NOT to have input on its future development.
Over two years ago a developer representing a certain dollar store wanted to locate a new store on the southeast corner of Linwood and Troost, directly across the street from ANOTHER certain dollar store.
Many nearby residents strongly objected believing that corner deserves much more than two dollar stores. The sentiment was that we should hold out and work for a development that would strengthen our neighborhoods rather than cheapen them.
Residents stood up, had their voices heard, and the developer moved elsewhere (more on that in part two).
3) Tell me what you WANT...
Shortly after this dollar store episode, political leaders stated that "rather than stating what you DONT WANT, it'll be more powerful to tell us what you WANT."
Thus the Troost Neighborhoods Coalition was born with the primary objective of stating what residents along Troost wanted to see on Troost. After dozens and dozens of meetings and forums etc. it became clear that the problem with Troost was its wild wild west open zoning.
On Troost you can have a used car lot, next to a single family house, next to a car repair shop, next to a duplex, next to a liquor store, next to a food pantry, next to a child care center, next to an industrial sprocket manufacturer, next to a church. The open zoning on Troost is outrageous!!!!
Because it's IMPOSSIBLE to rezone each individual parcel on Troost, the tool the Coalition chose is an "overlay." The overlay does not change the zoning of each parcel but lays a blanket on top of every single parcel on Troost and restricts what is able to be built under the blanket. This is called a "Special Character Overlay District."
Now let me explain what the Overlay District is NOT.
The Overlay is not:
- A condemnation action
- An attempt to impact any current Troost property
- A city plan for something coming down the line
- Or in any way changes anything regarding your property on streets other than Troost.
So why support it?
It is my hope that everyone in Longfellow enthusiastically support the Overlay for many reasons:
- Troost is a VITAL corridor and its development will impact our property values immensely.
- If Troost is full of dollar stores, quick cash establishments, plasma donation centers, and rental furniture places it will impact us negatively.
- If we work to imagine a new Troost that is mixed-use with residential, appropriate retail, sustainable transit, local shops & artisans, it will be a place where people will want to live, work, play, laugh and worship and will impact us positively.
- Erasing the scar of Troost as some historic dividing line will require proactive work on our part as residents.
The Overlay is the cornerstone of the all of the future work that needs to be done. Most of us have gone to other cities or traveled abroad and said "WOW this is an amazing street/corridor... I would LOVE to see something like this in Kansas City" well this is how it's done step by step.
The Overlay is an IMPORTANT step that has the FORCE OF LAW and officially lets the development community know what is and is not allowable on Troost going forward.
What happened with the dollar store?
Unfortunately, the developer skipped down the street and distastefully seized on another neighborhood and got the dollar store approved despite many of our objections over size, parking, location etc.
And as soon as it was approved their competitor purchased another corner on Troost and immediately built a new store. As a result we have two brand new small BOX dollar stores within blocks of each other on Troost.
This would have not been possible had the Overlay been in place. We NEED this Overlay family and I hope that you will support it. You can attend the hearing on Nov. 4th, if you can't do that you can call Diane Brinkley 816--513-8817 and let her know that you support the Troost Overlay. It will truthfully help in a big way!
At the very least please let your neighbors know the truth about the Overlay. If you have any further questions feel free to call me at anytime 816-820-6747.
Spark Bookhart, President
Longfellow Community Association