The physical environment of the planning area offers both opportunities and constraints for future development. A good understanding of the physical environment will help the community to seize the opportunities and alleviate the constraints through proper planning. The comprehensive planning process normally requires that the community fully analyze the physical environment of the area to be planned.
The physical environment here refers to both the natural environment and the existing man-made environment. The natural environment includes the land area, elevations, natural drainage basins, flood plains and slopes, water features, soil, vegetation, environmentally sensitive areas, etc. The man-made environment includes physical structures, public infrastructure, parks, man-made lakes, mines and rock quarries. This section examines some of the key features of the physical environment of the city as a whole, with a focus on the planning area where necessary.
The city currently has a land area of approximately 64 square miles. The Central/South planning area totals around 38 square miles, nearly 60% of the city total. This planning area is generally located south of Chipman Road. Please refer to the chapter entitled Planning Scope and Process for a full description of the planning area.
Natural drainage basins dictate how sanitary sewer and storm drainage systems are laid out, which, in turn, determines how and when physical development occurs. Lee’s Summit spreads across eleven major natural drainage basins. The map on the following page shows how these basins are distributed.
Map 3. Natural Drainage Basins
May Brook, Boggs Hollow, Little Cedar Creek, Cedar Creek and Mouse Creek watersheds generally drain northwest to feed into Little Blue River. Blue Springs, Jacomo, West Prairie Lee and South Prairie Lee watersheds drain north to feed into Little Blue River. Big Creek and Middle Big Creek drain towards southeast to feed into Big Creek. Six watersheds serve the planning area: Cedar Creek, West Prairie Lee, South Prairie Lee, Mouse Creek, Big Creek and Middle Big Creek.
Floodplains and Steep Slopes
Flooding is usually measured by the area of land that has a one in 100 chance of flooding per year. The resulting 100-year floodplain is a constraint on urban development in the upper reaches of area creeks. The man-made lakes around the area have had a profound affect on local floodplains in two ways. First, major lakes cover floodplains along the lower reaches of seven of the 12 creeks within the city. Second, these lakes and other area lakes have significantly reduced the 100-year floodplain on the Little Blue River as it flows through the northwest corner of Lee’s Summit. Flood control measures have eliminated large areas of floodplain and provide much opportunity for recreational and residential uses.
Other natural physical factors tend to be closely located near floodplain and lake areas. The rolling terrain of the Lee’s Summit area has been eroded by area creeks and rivers to the extent that highlands are 100 to 150 feet above the lowlands. The result of this long-term erosion process is bluffs and other steep terrain along the edges of natural floodplains. Watersheds with significant areas of steep terrain include Cedar Creek in the western portion of the city, and areas around Lake Blue Springs, Lake Lee’s Summit, Lake Jacomo, and Prairie Lee Lake. Area parks and open space often encompass these floodplains and steep terrain areas. Wooded areas are located in and adjacent to these parks and adjacent to the steep terrain along Cedar and May Brook. The map on the following page depicts these natural features.
Map 4. Floodplains and Steep Slopes
Man-made Physical Features
Major man-made features in the city includes man-made reservoirs, city and county parks, golf courses, highway network, Lee’s Summit municipal airport, the historic Longview Farm, Longview Community College and the city’s Resource Recovery Park. These features offer amenities, opportunities as well as challenges for future development. Unity Village is one of the man-made special features immediately adjacent to the city. The Central/South planning area shares most of these features.