Pottawatomie County officials held a lengthy conversation Monday over conditional use permits and the process for how those permits are carried out.
Currently the planning commission has the final say over how and when those types of permits are approved, with little oversight from the county commission. County Counselor John Watt says he fears it’s making the county vulnerable to potential litigation, citing case law from Wabaunsee County, he referred to as the “Zimmerman” case.
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Watt’s recommendation was to change the process and the rules so the conditional use permits are treated the same as zoning cases, in that the planning commission makes recommendations and the county commission makes a final decision.
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Solar farm regulations would fall under the conditional use permit requirement, a major reason for the discussion Monday, as it was the subject of a work session after the meeting.
Commissioners also heard from Emergency Management and the Pottawatomie County Health Department Monday about the surge in new COVID-19 cases impacting local hospitals.
Emergency Management Director Jennifer Merrow presented a resolution to commissioners Monday for a disaster declaration.
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Pottawatomie County Health Department Director Leslie Campbell also stated she’s heard from Todd Willert, CEO of Community HealthCare System, which operates a small hospital in Onaga, about how COVID is taxing their bed space.

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The declaration improves flexibility for staff to work under licensures as well as access to state provided resources as needed.

The resolution was approved unanimously and remains in place until further notice.

Commissioners reorganized as per statute, and following a nomination and a second, selected Pat Weixelman to serve as commission chair for 2022. Greg Riat will serve as vice chair.

It was also announced that the county plans to interview three candidates this week for the vacant Public Works administrator position, which has sat vacant since December 2020, following the resignation of Peter Clark. Pottawatomie County Administrator Chad Kinsley tells KMAN two candidates will be interviewed Thursday and a third will be interviewed on Friday. All three are external candidates.

The county offices are closed next Monday, Jan. 17 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The county will meet jointly with the planning commission in the evening Jan. 20.

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