Plans for a ranch for at-risk children was approved Tuesday night at the Franklin County Planning and Zoning meeting.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the final development plan for a planned unit development (PUD) for the Hope Ranch of Missouri.
The property is located on Highway JJ about 1 mile west of Interstate 44 in the Sullivan area. The request involves three parcels and totals around 195 acres.
Jennifer Hope, with Hope Ranch of Missouri, is proposing the mixed-use development. The only way her plan is possible is by applying for a PUD.
The plan board backed the preliminary plan at its June meeting. On Tuesday night, Hope Ranch representative Cameron Lueken, with Wunderlich Surveying & Engineering, told the commission not much has changed since the June meeting.
Instead of redoing the entire presentation from June over again, Lueken opted to answer questions. He said the only major change from the preliminary plan to the final plan is the naming of roads.
Otherwise Lueken said there are no significant changes. He said the stormwater plan proposed in June was approved.
The only real question about the plan related to the phased development. According to its proposal, Hope Ranch is planning on six phases with the last phase to be finished by 2031.
Commissioner Jay Schultehenrich asked what would happen if the phases weren’t finished as promised.
Planning Director Scottie Eagan said the county does allow some wiggle room for minor deviations to the plan. Any major delays, however, would require Hope Ranch to refile and amend the PUD.
In June, Hope told the commission the idea for the ranch is to create a safe space for at-risk kids. She said the ranch would be a place to help “break the cycle and heal the child.”
Hope Ranch of Missouri is a not-for-profit, non-denominational Christian organization. She said the property would allow kids a safe place to live and learn.
When all phases are done, she said it could accommodate up to 120 children and would have a total population of 252 people, including staff. The ranch would have a security gate and other security features.
Retired Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke spoke out in favor of the ranch at the June meeting. Toelke spoke about the problem of overcrowded prisons and issues with probation and parole.
“We have to do something different,” he said. “I’ve always felt if you’re going to change someone, you have to get them while they’re young.”
Other advocates spoke out in favor of the Hope Ranch and spoke of its need in the area at the June meeting.
There was one opponent of the plan in June, but he didn’t protest at Tuesday’s meeting. In fact, there were no objections from the public to the plan at the public hearing.