Johnson Co. works to address neighborhood concerns ahead of Medical Examiner’s building groundbreaking

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OLATHE, Kan. -- Right now, Johnson County, Kan. does not have its own medical examiner's office, forcing autopsies to be contracted out.  But that's about to change.

The county's set to break ground on a brand new $21 million medical examiner's building Thursday, but not before handling a last minute hurdle from concerned neighbors.

County leaders and representatives from the city are meeting in Olathe Wednesday night, hoping to work out a solution to concerns about the construction just brought to light.

Just off 119th and Sunset is the area the county will be building the medical examiner's office. The site backs up to the Northwood Trails subdivision. A large wooded area was a buffer between the construction and the neighborhood, until this week.

Scott Green's daughter took video of hundreds of trees behind their home as workers started to tear down dozens of those trees.

Neighbors were upset because they didn't believe the county was planning to remove any of those trees during construction.

But now, they're gone and neighbors look right into a 911 communications tower and small building.

The county says it planned to clear some trees all along.  But now the neighborhood is insisting the county do something to fix the forest.

"I think we can work with the county and the city to hide the view. We can hide the things that are not pleasant to look at, the building and the tower. But I don't know what we can do to replace the feeling of the woods," neighbor Scott Green said.

"Our relationships with neighbors are important and so our buildings are in neighborhoods in some cases and we want to be a good neighbor. We don't want to impact them in a negative way by our county properties and facilities," Johnson Co. director of facilities Brad Reinhardt said.

That's what neighbors are hoping to come away from after the meeting:  something that will improve their sight lines and solve drainage concerns they now have.

The county's temporarily paused work on the site, but is planning to move forward with Thursday's scheduled groundbreaking ceremony.


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