There's little doubt that Richard Hurd and Gary Kirke have made big contributions to the Mills Civic Parkway miracle mile or so of development, but the traffic that would be generated by a Kum & Go convenience store near 60th Street and Mills Civic has scuttled a potential $12.7 million land deal the two had struck.


Kirke, a key player in the development of the state's first gated country club community on the south side of Mills Civic and the tony West Glen Town Center just across the street, filed a lawsuit last month seeking damages after a Hurd-controlled company said it had no intention to buy 16.5 acres covered by a contract.


The sale of an additional 13.7 acres could not be completed because a Kum & Go could not be developed on the parcel due to a West Des Moines planning and zoning policy, according to the lawsuit.


That policy establishes maximum traffic counts that could be generated by the development of everything from single-family houses to big-box retail stores.


Traffic to and from the proposed Kum & Go would limit development opportunities for the rest of the Kirke land at 60th and Mills Civic, said Christopher Shires, development planning and inspection manager for West Des Moines.


City planners rely on a study by the Institute of Traffic Engineers that establishes average traffic counts for various categories of residential and commercial development. West Des Moines also establishes capacity limits by development type for water and sewer usage.


That policy was established as part of the planning process for Jordan Creek Town Center, a development that was made possible in part after the city ran water and sewer lines west of Interstate 35 to allow the development of Kirke's Glen Oaks residential development and country club.


Establishing limits for traffic, water and sewer is "a little unique and a little complex," Shires said, but it is essential if the city wants to maintain orderly development.


"Most cities would do an analysis on infrastructure capacity. Sometimes traffic is an afterthought. Now we have a chart that says someone wanting to buy or develop knows exactly what they have," Shires said. "Sometimes you can't add lanes to get yourself out of a traffic problem."

Hurd said the lawsuit was necessary to bring the traffic count issue and its potential to throttle development before the city.


"It's necessary to get the city's attention to get the traffic count issue resolved," he said.


Click here to read a Business Record article about Richard Hurd's quiet emergence as a leading developer in Greater Des Moines.