County Commissioners Deny Conditional-Use Permit for Group Home
(Sedgwick County, Kan.) – Sedgwick County Commissioners on Wednesday voted 3-2 to deny a conditional-use zoning request that would have allowed an applicant to establish a group home in a residential area in Haysville.
Wednesday’s BOCC vote is the latest in a series of meetings regarding the request for a conditional-use permit, dating back to early 2019 when the Haysville Planning Commission and Haysville Mayor Bruce Armstrong recommended denial of the request.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission recommended approving the applicant’s request under conditional uses, but opposing Commissioners said the MAPC decision did not sufficiently focus on whether a group residence is compatible with the existing rural residential area. They also cited a lack of nearby community amenities for the potential residents of the group home.
Opponents of the conditional-use request cited strong opposition from area property owners, concerns about decreasing property values and rising crime, a lack of public resources to support the group home and a history of basement groundwater leaks at the property, among other reasons. They stressed that they do not oppose foster homes but did not want to approve a conditional-use permit providing an exception for a business to exist in a rural residential area. Also, according to a Wichita Area Builders Association site inspection report, the property’s basement has experienced flooding from rising groundwater levels.
Supporters of the conditional-use permit said concerns that group homes decrease property values, increase crime and cause other neighborhood harm are overstated and lacking conclusive evidence. They stressed that foster youth need a home and that these placements can reduce crime and costs because youth are in a safe and stable environment.
The applicant seeking a conditional-use permit is Andrea Henschel, who owns the residence at 8361 S. Hydraulic Road. Henschel sought the conditional-use permit to convert the single-family residence into a group residence for six foster youth boys between the ages of 12 and 18 and a full-time staff person. Her plans included security cameras and alarm monitoring. The property is a 5-acre, unplatted tract of land located on the west side of South Hydraulic, just east of 82nd Street South. The character of the surrounding area is largely residential to the north, south, and west, with the single-family homes on lots just under one ace in size. The property to the east across Hydraulic is used agriculturally. All the surrounding land is zoned Rural Residential.