Commissioners consider condition for elementary school plat

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Leavenworth County Courthouse

When they meet Wednesday, Leavenworth County commissioners are scheduled to consider approval of a preliminary and final plat for a new elementary school near Linwood.

Commissioners discussed the plat for the school, which will be part of the Basehor-Linwood school district, when they met last week. But the issue was tabled after Commission Chairman Doug Smith expressed concern about the county government having to pay for road improvements once the school opens.

Smith said he believes the school district should be responsible for paying for traffic safety improvements such as turning lanes.

Commissioners voted last week to table the matter so an additional condition for the final plat could be drafted. The condition requires the school district to be responsible for paying for future traffic safety improvements in the area of the school if such improvements are needed.

Officials with the Basehor-Linwood school district plan to construct the elementary school at Kansas 32 Highway and Stillwell Road as part of a bond issue that was approved by voters in 2018.

The new school will replace the Linwood Elementary School. The existing Linwood Elementary School building may be used for other education programs, such as special education services, in the future.

When reviewing the proposed plat with commissioners last week, Krystal Voth, the county’s director of planning and zoning, said the school district will build a new road as part of the project. The road will be an extension of 178th Street.

Voth said the school district is asking commissioners to approve an exception to a county roadway spacing requirement. The proposed new section of 178th Street would be less than the required distance from the intersection of Stillwell Road and K-32.

Voth said a traffic study submitted by the school district indicates there will not be vehicle “stacking” issues.

District officials also are requesting an exception to a county driveway access management policy. A proposed driveway for the school also would be less than than the required distance from an intersection.

The school district also requested an exception to a county requirement that the parking lot for the school be enclosed with fencing or screening. Voth said this requirement is in place because the area is zoned for residential use. But she said enclosing the parking lot “is really quite unrealistic.”

Smith said he wants to make sure the county does not end up with the type of situation that existed when the Tonganoxie school district opened a school on Washington Street in Tonganoxie.

He said this led to a “stacking” problem until turn lanes were added.

“They had a traffic study too that said they didn’t need any improvements,” Smith said.

That school is located in the city of Tonganoxie. But Smith said county officials heard complaints about the traffic because Washington Street turns into Evans Road, which is designated as County Road 6.

The proposed Basehor-Linwood school will be located in an unincorporated area of the county.

“It’s just so close to K-32,” Smith said.

Smith said he wants to make sure it does not become the county’s responsibility to upgrade Stillwell Road.

Senior County Counselor David Van Parys said the issue can be addressed in an agreement between the county and school district. He said the issue also can be addressed as a condition of approval of the plat.

If the school district’s traffic study is correct, the additional improvements will not be needed, Van Parys said.

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