County website to get facelift
BY TRIBUNE STAFF
It’s been a tedious four-year process, but finally the revised Barton County Zoning and Subdivision Regulations were ready for adoption by the County Commission Monday morning.
After commending Environmental Manager Judy Goreham and the Planning Commission for their efforts, county commissioners approved the resolution and official zoning map.
Both the Zoning and Subdivision Regulations, as reviewed by the Barton County Planning Commission, were adopted in 2000 and have not been revised, by resolution, since that time, Goreham said. The new resolution states that the county will be governed by this second version, which merges the zoning and subdivision regulations into one document, as recommended by the Planning Commission. It will be effective upon publication of this Resolution in the Great Bend Tribune, the County’s official newspaper.
The focus of the Planning Commission is to plan for the growth and development of Barton County through planning and zoning laws that protect public health, safety and welfare, Goreham said. These local laws are contained within the Zoning and Subdivision Regulations.
To assure that these regulations reflect current law and local practices, the Planning Commission has undertaken a review process and public education effort that spanned a four-year period. Each of the 468 people who saw zoning changes to their property was contacted.
Commissioner Jennifer Schartz commented Monday, “I don’t think that this actually represents more government in people’s lives – just more consistent government.”
Goreham said the most noticeable change on the county zoning map is the three-mile buffer zone around Great Bend and the one-mile zones around Hoisington, Claflin and Ellinwood are grey because those areas are not controlled by county zoning.
A more robust website
The commission also approved a three-year license and service agreement with Simplified Online Communication System to rework the county’s website, and included a notification system that can send text messages or call people with alerts and updates.
For over two years, the County has explored options for improving its website. Emphasis has been on developing a site that better serves county residents, offering a more “interactive, modern and robust” format, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said. It should feature regular updates and a comprehensive community calendar.
Commissioner Schartz said the website will allow people to pay taxes online and find other information without a trip to the courthouse, and County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said one feature lets users translate English documents into Spanish (or other languages).
SOCS is provided by the Foundation for Educational Services, a non-profit organization headquartered in Lincoln, Neb. It offers “a good product at a good cost,” Boeckman said. The commission approved the contract for $5,500 per year “plus incidentals.” The commission also voted to uses SOCS to replace “Total Notify” service, used for everything from emergency notifications to meeting reminders. Doug Hubbard, director of 911, said Total Notify will be replaced by something called Code Red, at a cost of $18,000. For the county’s needs, SOCS has a better product.
Boeckman said he has negotiated with SOCS and the county can get its notification service for 10 cents per resident, or about $2,850 a year. The commission approved the proposal.
In other business, the commission:
• Awarded the biennial Kansas Department of Transportation bridge inspection contract to Kirkham Michael Engineers of Ellsworth. The firm submitted a proposal for required bridge inspections of $83 per bridge for 369 bridges for a total of $30,627.
• Approved the Production Scope and Fee Schedule as submitted by the Kansas City engineering firm H. W. Lochner Inc. Lochner, a national engineering firm that also has a site in Salina, noted that the Ellinwood bridge has two expansion joints at the hinges and two at the abutments. The project will involve replacing all four with new strip seal expansion joints, retrofitting the bearings, all while the bridge is kept open to at least one traffic lane.
• Approved the Signage Upgrade Project Application to Kansas Department of Transportation for the High Risk Rural Road Program. The application, developed by County Engineer Clark Rusco, is for upgrading signage on several highly traveled corridors in Barton County to meet the new requirements of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Devices. While not specifying what roads might qualify, Rusco gave past examples such as the curves on Boyd road. If approved, the grant may provide up to 100 percent of any project cost.