Stilwell, KS. Target and Kohl's Superstores Fail to Get Supermajority.
Residents in Stilwell, Kansas got a two-for-one victory last week when they toppled two of the largest chain stores in America. An account from the front lines in Kansas follows: "The County Commissioners of Johnson County, Kansas, voted on November 7 to deny an application to build two box stores in Stilwell, just south of Overland
Park. The motion to approve the project had 3 votes in favor and 2 against, but because citizens had submitted a successful, legal protest petition, the motion required 4 votes to pass. This means the developer cannot resubmit the application for one year, unless it is "substantially revised". The key issue was that the developer wanted to re-zone a 31 acre tract that was planned for residential to the most intense retail commercial zoning in Johnson County.The plan had at first been for 290,000 square feet, including two big box
stores: one at 174,000 sq ft and the other at 69,000 sq ft. Under pressure, the developer scaled back the plan to "only" 210,000 square feet of retail with two box stores of 50,000 sq ft and 85,000 sq ft. with a connecting 19,000 sq ft, plus some pad sites. No tenants were ever identified, but residents had good information that the original plan was for a SuperTarget, which then pulled out, and the newer plan was for a Kohl's. The developer is expected to come back now with a "substantially revised" plan, which could be as little as dropping the retail 10% in size. The
residents are fully prepared to mount another protest petition and continue
to work to get the homes built that the Master Plan promised. Many residents examined the Master Plan before buying their home in the nearby neighborhoods". So things are still well in Stilwell.
What you can do: In many states, if residents get the signatures of a certain % of abutting property-owners surrounding a land use proposal, the local permitting board that has to vote on it has to get a 2/3rds "supermajority" vote to approve a rezoning. In this case, there was no supermajority for the superstores, and the developer has to go back to the drawing board. If your zoning code doesn't allow a supermajority vote, talk to a local land use lawyer or friendly member of the city council about getting such a requirement in your code. For local contacts in Stilwell, contact firstname.lastname@example.org