The Leavenworth County Commission gave the green light for the Leavenworth County Humane Society to apply for the permit needed to pursue a new facility near Tonganoxie.
The LCHS is now in negotiations with the owners of a 22-acre piece of land at the northwestern intersection of Honey Creek and Chieftain roads. The parcel, however, is located within the county's special development district, comprised of 1-1/2 mile on either side of the section of County Road 1 constructed by the county in 2009. All development proposals within that district are reviewed by the commission before being allowed to move forward, according to County Planning and Zoning Director Jeff Joseph.
“In order to apply for a special-use permit,” which the organization would need to operate the facility, he said, “the commission has to grant the waiver.”
Crystal Swan Blackdeer, the president for the LCHS, said the project that would follow the application would be essentially the home base for the organization, with a barn now on the property potentially being retrofitted to accommodate office space, a meeting and training area, a small retail operation and an animal care facility for homeless pets. In future phases, the organization aims to add capabilities for companion animal care, potential shelter for rescue of large animals and a pet memorial garden.
“The goal is to create a campus of comprehensive animal services for all Leavenworth County residents,” Blackdeer said in a letter to the planning and zoning department. “We have no desire to compete with existing veterinary practices.”
Instead, she said it's similar to a facility the LCHS proposed in 2010 on a parcel of land on the western side of the city of Leavenworth. That effort was stalled in the rezoning application phase. Because of the uncertainty, Blackdeer said the LCHS had not yet purchased the land at the current site.
“We don't want to purchase it until we know we're going to be allowed to use it,” she said.
Commissioners at the county, however, seemed supportive of the effort.
“To get a development along County Road 1 is something we've always been seeking and hoping for and this would be one,” Commissioner Clyde Graeber told his two colleagues.
“Personally, I think it's a good fit,” said Commissioner Dennis Bixby. “It's going to have good visibility for you and it's a much-needed asset to the community.”
Blackdeer said she was aware that the commission's approval of the SDD waiver would not constitute approval the project as a whole.
“We understand there is a whole list of requirements that we have to meet to be able to develop the property to do what we want it to do,” she said. “But this is step one.”
Page 2 of 2 - The commission approved the waiver.