Archive for Thursday, July 20, 2006

County Planning Commission denies group home request

July 20, 2006

— A faith-based group's plans to build a home for troubled teens in Leavenworth County were rejected last week.

And now, the issue rests with the County Commission.

At their monthly meeting, County Planning Commission members voted, 8-0, to deny House of Hope's request for a special-use permit that would pave the way for construction of cottages on 40 acres of farmland southeast of Lansing. No date has been determined for the Leavenworth County Commission to consider the request, but it likely won't be until the second week of August.

House of Hope works with teens between the ages of 12 and 18.

Area residents spoke to planning commissioners, expressing concerns about safety, security of the center and additional traffic.

County planning director Chris Dunn had recommended approval of the project.

"I recognized it was a NIMBY (not in my back yard)," he said. "But I made a positive recommendation."

Marilyn Thomas, House of Hope executive director for the Kansas City area, said she was hopeful county commissioners would see the benefits to the development.

"We're still hopeful that their hearts will be in favor of having this for their community," she said.

Plans call for House of Hope to build on a 40-acre tract at the northwest corner of McIntyre and Wolcott roads.

Youths are referred to House of Hope by various sources - churches, counselors and high schools, Thomas said. And their problems vary, Thomas said. It's possible youths from throughout the Kansas City area could live at the facility, where the average stay is expected to be from eight to 15 months. House of Hope is not a treatment center, and youths with drug or alcohol problems would go to a rehabilitation center before being sent to House of Hope, Thomas said.

"We were disappointed that they (planning commissioners) couldn't see the goodness in it and the contributions to the community," Thomas said. "It's not over yet."

Former Leavenworth County resident Mildred Stuckey has offered to donate the 40-acre site if the county approves the House of Hope special-use permit. Stuckey, who lives in a retirement center in Papillion, Neb., is 87. She was born on the proposed site. And her father, Ralph Dohrn, also was born there. The land has been in her family since the 1880s.

Twice previously, Stuckey, who lived in Leavenworth County for 80 years, has made attempts to donate her land to use as a facility to help children. However, the projects never came about.

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