County denies permit for indoor baseball facility

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

When they met Wednesday, Leavenworth County commissioners voted against a special use permit for an indoor baseball training facility west of Lansing.

The special use permit was sought for the operation of the facility at 163rd Street and Gilman Road, an area that is zoned for residential use.

The owners, Kevin and Andrea Boden, apparently began operating a youth baseball practice facility in a building at that location last year without the permit. Once the owners received notification that a permit was required, they contacted the county’s Planning and Zoning Department, according to Krystal Voth, director of the department.

The proposed special use permit would have limited the commercial operation of the facility to the months of January, February and March. The permit also would have allowed no more than two teams to practice at the facility each day.

The owners would have been required to construct a gravel parking lot to accommodate at least eight vehicles.

The Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 to deny the permit. Commissioners Jeff Culbertson and Mike Stieben voted against the motion.

The county’s Planning Commission voted earlier to recommend approval of the permit. But the facility faced opposition from people who live in the area of the property.

A protest petition was submitted to the county. But it was not considered valid because the people who signed the document did not represent a sufficient amount of the neighboring land.

Speaking during Wednesday’s meeting, Kelly Meyer said the petition shows there is opposition to the permit throughout the neighborhood.

Meyer expressed concern about the increased traffic caused by the facility.

“It’s a lot of traffic,” she said.

Colleen Keller also expressed concern about traffic when addressing the county commissioners.

Charity Briggs said her neighborhood is not the right place for an indoor sports facility. She also complained about the appearance of the building that has been used for the facility.

“It is a huge, ugly metal building that does not look like other buildings in our neighborhood,” she said.

The athletic directors for Leavenworth High School and Lansing High School wrote letters of support for the facility.

Gary Mattingly, activities and athletic director for Lansing High School, stated the facility provided children with an alternative site to practice during bad weather.

Voth said there have been complaints about the continued use of the facility. Voth said this is hard for county officials to police because the property owners have children who may want to invite friends to the use the facility.

“We certainly don’t want to tell anyone that they can’t have friends over,” Voth said.

Commission Chairman Mike Smith made the motion to deny the permit.

After the vote, Smith said he believes such a practice facility is needed. But he disagreed with the location of the facility.

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said commissioners voted to not allow the property to be used for commercial purposes. But she said the property owners can invite friends to the facility.

“You’re allowed to do that,” she said.

Kaaz later questioned whether commissioners should provide an explanation of why the permit was denied based on the factors commissioners are asked to consider for such requests. She referred to them as the golden factors.

County Counselor David Van Parys said he probably should have made this suggestion when commissioners were discussing the matter.

Van Parys said he believed commissioners had mentioned some of the factors when discussing issues such as traffic, the character of the neighborhood and questions about sanitation.

Van Parys recommended reopening the matter and listing the factors that played a role in the decision to deny the permit.

Kaaz made a motion to reopen the matter. But the motion failed by a 2-3 vote. Only Kaaz and Commissioner Doug Smith voted for the motion.

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Voted to deny a request to rezone 6.7 acres of land at 207th Street and Springdale Road from a rural residential district to a general business district.

Commissioners also voted to waive a one-year waiting period to allow the property owner to apply for a special use permit if he chooses to apply for one.

• Approved the rezoning of 38 acres from a rural residential district with a minimum of five-acre lots to a rural residential district with a minimum of 2.5-acre lots.

• Tabled a proposed amendment to county zoning and subdivision regulations.

• Met behind closed doors in executive session for 15 minutes to consult with legal counsel.