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Commission approves business rezoning request
County eyes ways to make land-use permitting easier
county rezoning request pic
Barton County Environmental Manager Judy Goreham, left, explains the Planning Commission’s support for Kaleb Schartz, seated, to rezone part of his parent’s farm east of Great Bend so he can operate a vehicle repair business there. The County Commission Wednesday morning approved the change. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

County offices to close for July 4

Barton County business offices, the Health Department, the Sheriff’s Office Records Division and the Solid Waste Landfill will be closed on Monday in observance Independence Day. Emergency services will be in normal operation.

Barton County Commissioners lauded the idea of a young entrepreneur starting a new rural business as they approved an application for a zoning amendment for Kaleb Schartz and his vehicle repair service. They also looked at ways to simplify the land-use permitting process.

The application called for a portion of an existing farmstead, located at 550 East US 56, Great Bend, be rezoned for use as an automotive repair shop, Environmental Manager Judy Goreham said. Following a June 14 public hearing, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended the change and no nearby landowners offered objections.

“Kyle and his wife Bonnie own a farmstead directly east of Darthmouth, directly north of Bartlett Grain,” Goreham said. “Their son Kaleb is wanting to take about a quarter of an acre inside that farmstead and rezone it from agriculture district to light manufacturing service commercial districts so that he can run his business.”

The name of the business will be Midwest speed LLC and he will repair cars, trucks and all-terrain vehicles. “He would like to keep it here and do it on the farmstead.”

“I applaud you guys for pushing this change,” District 1 Commissioner Kirby Krier said, adding this is the right way to do this. There are many instances of businesses operating without proper zoning.

“I love working on these,” Kaleb said  of ATVs. “I said ‘why not keep it local.’”

With the off-road industry booming, there is a big demand for ATV repairs, he said. Now, many riders are leaving the area to get their vehicles fixed.

A larger discussion

Krier said he had visited with Planning Commission member Mary Ann Stoskopf about her ideas on making this process simpler.

“What her big-picture idea would be is to take agriculture district areas and have what’s called conditional use for something like this,” Goreham said. “Instead of rezoning land and changing it from agriculture to something else, it would be a more specific to a conditional use permit.” 

There is a long list of allowable businesses in an appropriately zoned area. Some of these may not be desirable near homes.

Under Stoskopf’s plan, the property would still be ag land, but other businesses that are more home based could be permitted, she said.

The change would be an expansion of conditional-use guidelines, she said, It allows the county to look at each situation case-by-case.

The interested party would still have to apply and the process would be the same, “But the difference would be that it wouldn’t rezone the land,” Goreham said. 

“If you look at our zoning regulations, there is a list of all allowed types of use,” she said. “So (this concept) really it protects the agricultural district concept and keeps it more agriculture with conditional uses that are site specific, businesses is specific and protects the use of the land long term for agriculture.”

Stoskopf and her fellow planning commissioners’ big concern is that for every business that does this, the county ends up having little re-zoned spots all over the county. And, if the land sells, the new owner inherits this business district, and would have to go through rezoning to change it.

“But on the flip side, what’s concerning is that the next landowner could then turn that business district into something undesirable,” Goreham said. “That’s worst case scenario,”

There has to be a clause written into the rezoning resolution that states it reverts back to agriculture if it’s ever sold.

A good idea

“I really appreciate Mary Ann and her experience with zoning,” District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. “I think she’s really looking out for the best interest of the county and using a long lens. Maybe there is a better way.”

Also, she noted, if we want to keep young people in the community and keep them engaged in farming, “then we have to make sure that they have the ability to make money on the farm. I just think we couldn’t we just really need to support that.”

“I think this is exciting because we’re bringing another business in to the county,” Goreham said. “We’re making it possible for him to have his business and do it where he wants to do it.”

Barton County Commission at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Wednesday morning:

• Approved an application for a zoning amendment for Kyle Schartz and Kaleb Schartz, Midwest Speed LLC.

• Approved a public fireworks display Sunday, July 3. at First Assembly of God church, 601 S. Patton Rd., at the request of the Rev. Dwight Dozier. • Approved Central Kansas Community Corrections and 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services FY22 enhanced funding for payroll.

Amy Boxberger, CKCC director, and Marissa Woodmansee, Juvenile Services director, said the Kansas Department of Corrections notified Barton County that retro-active pay had been approved using Fiscal Year 2022 Enhanced Funding. Given that the fiscal year for those departments ends June 30, the commission had to approve retro-active backpay for each agency. 

• Approved revisions to the fees at the Barton County Landfill.

The tipping fee be increased by $2 per ton. The minimum fee would remain at $10 per ton. 

• Approved revisions of the 2022 authorized positions listing.

These include adding a technical position to the County’s structure and updates that will clarify departmental names and current structure, said Director of Operations Matt Patzner.

The Schedule of Authorized Positions is adopted outside the budget. This adds another level of transparency to County operations, creating a central, commission-authorized document for total anticipated County Personnel in 2022, he said. 

• Heard an announcement from County Attorney Levi Morris regarding the downsizing of his office’s staff.