Douglas County leaders to consider site plan extension for Lawrence private school

photo by: Journal-World

The west side of the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., is pictured on Sept. 23, 2021.

Douglas County leaders on Wednesday will consider granting an extension for a Lawrence private school’s site plan as it works to determine its long-term location.

At Wednesday’s Douglas County Commission meeting, commissioners will consider granting Veritas Christian School a one-year extension for its site plan at 960 East 1296 Road, which is a few miles south of Lawrence. The site plan was originally approved March 2, 2022, and it proposed the addition of modular classrooms, expanded parking and an on-site lagoon sanitary sewer system.

According to a memo from Planner Mary Miller included with Wednesday’s meeting agenda, the extension will be necessary for Veritas to keep its original site plan because site plan approvals are only valid for two years from the date they’re approved. Site plans become null and void if an applicant hasn’t obtained a building permit within that time.

However, the County Commission may extend the expiration date for up to a year as long as “good cause” is shown and the written extension request is provided prior to the expiration date. According to the memo, Veritas on Feb. 1 submitted that written extension request, which notes that the school is still working through the details of its long-term location.

Veritas has seen some changes on that front in the two years since the site plan for 960 East 1296 Road was approved. In June 2022, the school struck a deal with River City Church to move into about 30,000 square feet of space the church had already set aside for classrooms at its complex near 31st Street and Kasold Drive, leaving behind another campus location at 256 N. Michigan St. That North Michigan Street site is now home to The Village, the Lawrence Community Shelter’s community of 64-square-foot Pallet cabins for people experiencing homelessness.

The memo notes that the school’s special use permit for the space at River City Church expires at the end of the 2025 school year, and Veritas wants to keep the location south of the city as an option until then.

Planning staff is recommending that the County Commission approve the one-year extension, with the possibility of an additional extension at the end of that one-year period “based on the timing constraints of the school.”

In other business, commissioners will:

• Receive Kansas Holistic Defenders’ annual report for 2023.

Renovations are underway in the County Commission’s usual meeting space at the Douglas County Courthouse, so meetings for most of this year will take place in the Douglas County Public Works training room at 3755 E. 25th St. The meeting will also be available via Zoom.


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