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Security Measure

New homeless shelter regulations proposed

New homeless shelter regulations ready for consideration
Posted on 12/31/2020

The City of Lenexa is considering proposed code language that would allow homeless shelters in certain commercial zoning districts and in all churches or places of worship, subject to certain criteria.

Homeless shelters are not currently defined as a land use in Lenexa’s zoning regulations, which are outlined in the City’s Unified Development Code. Zoning separates land uses with similar impacts into district categories to help ensure these impacts – like traffic, parking, noise, intensity of use and hours of operation – are appropriately managed and reasonably uniform. Zoning respects the character of the surrounding land, infrastructure and services while allowing certain expectations for nearby property owners.

The City started an in-depth process to update City Code to more comprehensively address homeless shelter regulations in late 2019, after a local church asked that a not-for-profit group be allowed to host an overnight shelter in its facility.

After thorough study, a community survey and discussions with stakeholders, the City Council reviewed draft regulations at a Committee of the Whole meeting in August 2020. Staff used input gathered from the Governing Body and public at this meeting to develop the proposed code updates, which are ready for further review.

Proposed code updates

View the draft code language

In summary, the proposed code language would:

  • Define the homeless shelter use as, “A building generally operated by a public entity, a publicly funded entity, a nonprofit or charitable organization, a church or a place of worship that provides temporary day and/or overnight shelter to one or more persons who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.”
  • Allow for the establishment of homeless shelters with a Special Use Permit in the CP-2, CP-3 and C-4 zoning districts (each is a commercial district) with the occupant load determined at the time the Special Use Permit is granted. Special Use Permits must be approved by the City Council after a recommendation is made by the Planning Commission.
  • Allow for the establishment of a homeless shelter as an accessory use to a church or place of worship with a maximum of 10 guests subject to the following criteria:
    • The shelter must have at least two employees and/or volunteers on the premises during all operational hours.
    • Prior to establishing a homeless shelter as an accessory use, a new certificate of occupancy must be applied for and approved by City staff. This requires compliance with all building and fire codes.
  • Allow for the establishment of a homeless shelter as an accessory use to a church or place of worship with a maximum of 30 guests subject to the following criteria:
    • The building housing the shelter must be at least 30,000 square feet in size.
    • The property where the shelter is located must be within ½ mile of a transit stop.
    • The shelter must have at least two employees and/or volunteers on the premises during all operational hours for the first 10 guests and one additional employee and/or volunteer for every 10 additional guests.
    • A homeless shelter exceeding 10 individuals may only be operated from December 1 through March 31.
    • Prior to establishing a homeless shelter as an accessory use, a new certificate of occupancy must be applied for and approved by City staff. This requires compliance with all building and fire codes.

Process timeline and opportunities for feedback and questions

The proposed regulations will be reviewed and considered at several upcoming meetings of the Planning Commission and City Council. All meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the Community Forum at Lenexa City Hall, 17101 W. 87th Street Parkway. COVID-19 prevention protocols will be in place, including mask-wearing and social distancing.

  • Jan. 5, 2021: The City Council received an update during its regular meeting on the process timeline. The Council, Planning Commission and stakeholders were made aware that the draft code language is available for review.
  • Jan. 26, 2021: The draft amendments were presented to and discussed by the City Council during a Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting. No formal decisions are made or votes taken at COW meetings.
  • March 1, 2021: The Planning Commission held a public hearing, discussed the proposed amendments and recommended approval to the City Council.
  • March 16, 2021: The City Council considers the Planning Commission’s recommendation and an ordinance adopting the proposed amendments.

Members of the public may also direct questions and/or written comments to Magi Tilton at mtilton@lenexa.com. All comments will be provided to the City Council and Planning Commission for their consideration.


Updated March 3, 2021