Mission Montessori school owner planning to open daycare in Lenexa

Mark Murphy, owner of Little Lambs Montessori School

Plans are underway for a Montessori daycare to open in Lenexa.

Mark Murphy, who owns Little Lambs Montessori School in Mission, proposed his plan to the Lenexa planning commission on June 3 to open Shooting Stars Montessori Daycare at 9430 Gillette St. The building is currently occupied by an autism therapy center.

“I’d like to tell you that we’re full and have been full because of the great job we’re doing, but the reality is there’s no care in Mission, Kansas, and there’s no care here in Lenexa,” Murphy said, citing his concern with a lack of daycare centers providing quality private or Montessori education.

Murphy said the $700,000 daycare center would serve up to 45 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years; 12 spots would be slated for infants.

“We have a waiting list 15 months long, which means we have deposits from parents who are pregnant that want spots at our school, again not because we’re doing anything but because there’s no care,” he added.

The daycare center will have two separate outdoor play areas for the different age groups. The site would include fencing and boulders and trees to protect outdoor play areas and the area surrounding the building.

Murphy owns Little Lambs Montessori School in Mission.

Access to the site requires driving through a residential neighborhood because there is no driveway access directly onto 95th Street. Some neighbors expressed concerns that the area has inadequate parking for Mi Ranchito, a restaurant neighboring the proposed daycare center, and that restaurant employees park on their streets in front of their houses too much. They believe parking from parents will spill out onto their streets as well.

City staff said the daycare center meets parking requirements of at least 16 spots (it has 19). Murphy said the autism center has allowed Mi Ranchito employees to use their parking lot, and he plans to continue that arrangement.

Neighbors were also concerned with the increase in traffic and risk of vehicles speeding through their neighborhood, especially from parents who might speed to arrive on time to drop off or pick up their children.

Three neighbors shared their concerns with the planning commission, including Patrick DeNegri, who has a small child and is worried about the increased traffic.

Patrick DeNegri, a Lenexa resident who lives near the proposed daycare center, said he was concerned about increase in traffic and vehicles speeding near his home.

“We live on a cul-de-sac; it’s nice to let her ride her bike or go play in the front yard without worrying,” he said. “I’ve been a parent that’s been late to pick her up from daycare; it happens. Having 20 or 30 extra cars in the morning, that’s just 20 or 30 chances of my daughter getting hit. God forbid someone hit her, my wife or me in the morning.”

Murphy said neighbors would only experience traffic increases during regular morning and evening rush hour times on weekdays. Business hours will be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

Planning commissioners said they could not hold Murphy accountable for parking issues caused by inadequate parking at Mi Ranchito.

The planning commission voted 8-0 to recommend the city council approve a 10-year special use permit for the commercial daycare to operate at the site. The daycare requires a special use permit because the lot is zoned in a planned neighborhood office district. Planning commissioner Jason Leib was absent.

The special use permit includes three deviations allowing the daycare center’s outdoor play areas and parking lot to be located within the required 10-foot setback.

The Lenexa council will consider the special use permit June 18. If the council approves the permit, then Murphy will proceed with purchasing the building.