Commissioners rezone land for planned foster care community in Leavenworth County

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LINWOOD, Kan. – A metro couple with dreams of building a foster care community got the green light from Leavenworth County commissioners.

On Wednesday, commissioners voted unanimously to approve the rezoning of a property in Linwood, Kansas, from residential to a planned unit development.

“We’ve looked at so many over the last year and a half, and this one just kind met all of our needs,” said Sarah Oberndorfer, the co-founder of Joy Meadows.

Sarah and Justin Oberndorfer founded Joy Meadows nearly two years ago with the dream of a building a foster care community that would serve children living in Johnson, Wyandotte, Leavenworth and Douglas counties.

“That’s 1,600 kids in need of care with just those four counties, and so how can we do the greatest good?” Justin said.

The 23-acre property approved by commissioners already has a 4,600 square foot home, a stable, garden, orchard and plenty of room for additional houses to be built.

“If we open up large homes that can take in the larger sibling sets, then all of sudden that opens up all the other foster homes in the counties,” Justin said.

The couple’s original site plan called for 10 residential homes, a multi-purpose building, equestrian and therapy space, library and playgrounds, among many other features.

“Looking at the model that we have adopted, it’s just so positive,” Justin added. “You have support systems in place, therapy on site.”

Leavenworth County commissioners approved the rezoning with a list of provisions that would need to be made, including cutting the number of homes down to seven.

“There’s a building now, land now, and we’re really going to start doing more good,” Sarah said.

Not everyone is on board with the Oberndorfers’ vision. Some neighbors have expressed safety concerns and question whether having a foster care community in their backyards would hinder their rural way of life.

“Our hope moving forward is that we just continue to work with the neighbors because there are amazing people out here in this area,” Sarah said.

The couple, who are also foster parents, said more than anything, they’re happy that more people are now aware of the foster care needs in Kansas.

“Now they have a way to get involved directly by financial support or by the support they’re going to provide here on the property,” Sarah said.

The Oberndorfers should close on the property in Linwood by the middle of this month. If all goes to plan, they hope to have the first family moved into the existing home by the beginning of next year.

To learn more about Joy Meadows or upcoming events that support the organization, click here.

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