Roeland Park reviews code to explore size restrictions on teardown-rebuild home projects

As the wave of teardown-rebuild projects in northeast Johnson County continues to expand, the Roeland Park city council is considering following neighboring communities in exploring building size regulations that could impact new residential construction and reinvestment.

Councilman Michael Poppa was among those to introduce the code update suggestions. Poppa said he thought it would be smart for the council to start considering these items before more teardowns occur throughout the community.

Preserving the aesthetic of neighborhoods by limiting massing, height, and set-backs on new builds were listed as potential areas of consideration. Addressing storm water runoff issues caused by new construction was also an area of emphasis.

Poppa said he was not advocating for an architecture review board or for the city to be the “style police.”

“There are safety issues that come with teardowns and rebuilds,” Poppa said.

Councilor Teresa Kelly said she would be interested in looking into regulations regarding height limits and the footprint of a house relative to its lot.

“We want to find a balance by reviewing our code,” Kelly said.

Councilmember Sheri McNeil said she was interested in discussing safety regulations and concerns about water runoff and had less interest in aesthetic-related discussion.

Councilmember Becky Fast said she thought it was a “great idea” to have the Planning Commission start working through potential code and regulation changes related to new construction.

Councilmembers Michael Rhoades and Tim Janssen urged the council to be cautious as they move forward with considering these types of regulations. Rhoades said he was concerned any additional regulations could “put the skid marks” on new investments in the community.

In June 2016, Prairie Village approved restrictions on house sizes for new builds following a contentious debate that spanned more than a year. The guidelines included restrictions on building height, first floor elevation and side setbacks.

City administrator Keith Moody said he would pass the draft suggestions along to Roeland Park Building Official John Jacobson for an initial review.

(Read more: Prairie Village Post – Neighborhood news and events for Prairie Village, Fairway, Mission Hills)