Comprehensive Plan update finishes key phase

Comprehensive Plan update finishes key phase
Posted on 05/15/2023

Lenexa City leaders recently took a close look at how Lenexa could develop over the next 20 years and how these changes would impact the community as part of the City’s Comprehensive Plan update. The new Comprehensive Plan builds off Vision 2040 and guides staff, developers, and elected and appointed officials in decision-making on topics like land use, transportation, parks and open space, and community facilities.

The Comprehensive Plan project team presented the results of a land use alternatives analysis at a Steering Committee meeting May 8 and a joint meeting of the Lenexa City Council and Planning Commission on May 9. This analysis will help shape the City’s new future land use map, a key component of the Comprehensive Plan.

The Future Land Use Map identifies where uses are compatible and desirable across the city. The Future Land Use Map includes different types of residential, commercial and industrial land uses and their densities and intensities. Land uses are chosen based on their relationship to the transportation system, natural features such as creeks, and each other.

City staff and their consultant team prepared and extensively studied three different land use scenarios that show where different types of development could occur in the future. The three maps were shaped by current and foreseeable market trends, as well as extensive public feedback collected through engagement efforts like surveys and Vision 2040.

For each scenario, the team included projections for how its mix of uses could impact population, public infrastructure, job growth, parkland and other key factors.

After in-depth discussions the City Council, Planning Commission and Steering Committee supported reimagining land uses in certain undeveloped areas to adapt to changes in the market. They also supported exploring marginal increases in density, but only when increased density is appropriate relative to surrounding land uses.

For example, this could include new single-family developments with densities greater than the current 3.5 dwelling units per acre in order to provide additional small lots for more moderately priced housing, or allowing for accessory dwelling units (granny flats) in certain single-family zoned areas, or even allowing higher densities in apartment developments when located in appropriate areas such as City Center or near highways.

Deciding on a preferred land use scenario will allow the project team to begin crafting a draft of the new Comprehensive Plan. Feedback on these land use alternatives will inform both the Future Land Use Map and policy recommendations in the final document. The team plans to present a draft Comprehensive Plan later this year.

View the online presentation and slides

About the Land Use Scenarios 

Each of the three scenarios takes into account relationships between land uses. For example, Lenexa is crossed by many miles of state and federal highways, and the area next to a highway is often not a desirable location for single-family homes. Locating multifamily housing and other non-residential uses along highways has proven to be an appropriate buffer for single-family and other lower-density housing.

It’s important to note that these scenarios are just concepts. If the Comprehensive Plan ultimately includes recommendations to adjust densities, the Development Code would still need to go through a revision process to change zoning standards that would include public input.

Understanding future impacts

Each scenario was tested to better understand the impacts of future development. These impacts inform planning for capital improvement projects and other public investments needed to make future development realistic and a net benefit for the community.

There are benefits and challenges to increasing density, for example. More people means more traffic and more demand on public infrastructure. But additional density also uses land, utilities and other resources more efficiently; increases access to amenities and job opportunities; and supports housing affordability, diversity and availability.

The ratio of residential to nonresidential land uses is important, too. Generally, cities have to spend more money to provide services to residential properties than these properties generate in taxes. Commercial and industrial development can offset those losses. (See the fiscal impact section below)

The project team compared results of several testing factors for each scenario. View the comparison here. Ranges are provided since development occurs between a range of minimum and maximum densities according to the land use category the development is within. You can also find testing factor results on the three scenarios' fact sheets.