A complaint from rural Barton County resident Clarence Bieberle about a trashy property near his home north of Odin led to a harsh rebuke by the County Commission Monday morning of the County Attorney’s Office and its lack of action on numerous zoning and nuisance code violations.
“I just want to know what can be done,” Bieberle said, adding the site is now stacked with scrap cars, trailers filled with junk and other items. He addressed the commission about the George Goddard residence at 2097 NE 90 Ave., seven miles north of Odin, and a situation that goes back about eight years.
However, during the this discussion, it was noted by Barton County Environmental Manager Judy Goreham that the case had been turned over to County Attorney Doug Matthews in December 2008. “It has never been dealt with.”
In fact, Goreham said, there were two other cases also handed over to Matthews, neither of which has been resolved.
“Judy (Goreham) went as far as she could go,” Bieberle said. At this point, neither Goreham nor the commission really have any say in the matter and he wanted to know where he could go next.
Commissioner Homer Kruckenberg asked what could be done about the county attorney “dragging his feet,” and what the commission could do to apply pressure.
It is a shame, Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said, that a citizen “went through all the hoops” and still can’t reach a conclusion.
County Administrator Richard Boeckman said he had just recently emailed Matthews about the case, however, Matthews had not responded. Boeckman also advised Matthews that the matter would come up at the Monday commission meeting.
The Tribune left a voice message for Matthews, but Matthews was in court. He had not replied as of presstime Monday.
Goreham said the Goddard case is a zoning violation. The other two, Dean Sherman, 40 NE 20 Rd., and Robert Hertel, 00 NE 20 Rd., are nuisance code violations.
The Goddard issue began as an after-the-fact zoning amendment request for him to go from agricultural to light manufacturing service commercial so he could then apply for a conditional use permit to operate what was an illegal salvage yard at his residence, Goreham said. This went before the County Planning Commission in July 2007.
This public hearing resulted in a unanimous recommendation to deny his request. Before it could go to the commission for the final vote, the request to rezone was withdrawn by Goddard.
He was then given a time-line to bring his property into compliance, she said. He made some progress but ultimately it was officially turned over to the county attorney.
The Sherman case began as a nuisance code violation in June 2010. “I was never even remotely successful in getting him to clean up anything on his property,” Goreham said.
So, on Dec. 17, 2012, the County Commission formally turned this property over to the county attorney for prosecution.
The Hertel case also began as a nuisance code violation, dating back to December 2012. Goreham said Hertel requested many extensions when he was given a time-line to clean up his property but ultimately the only thing he ever did was have a roll-off cart set on his property, but he never put anything in it and never removed any waste from the property.
This was officially turned over to the county attorney on June 3, 2013.
The purpose of the zoning regulations is to conserve and protect property values throughout Barton County through restrictions placed on the use of buildings and land for dwellings, business, industry, conservation and other purposes. The county last updated these regulations in January 2013.
The Barton County nuisance code was implemented in 2009. Its purpose is to provide for the abatement of nuisances, to include inoperable vehicles, structures which have become dilapidated or deteriorated, salvage material, garbage, weeds and other noxious vegetation.
The penalty imposed for violations of the code are in accordance with the penalties established by Kansas law for a class B misdemeanor.