Pottawatomie County commissioners made very little movement Monday in considering two conditional use permits for rural properties north of Rock Creek High School.
After spending over an hour discussing the request by Greg Ferkol for a children’s play area and accompanying event space, commissioners voted to proceed with the play area under a rural tourism C-U-P with a condition that a fence be constructed between the play area and a pond and that an annual review of the C-U-P be conducted by county staff. Following the vote, commissioners were required to explain their vote, according to the governing statute.
Commissioner Greg Riat went first.
“I don’t have a reason to say that I’m for it or against it other than at this time we’ve tabled the wedding venue, which I think is the issue, and we are looking at it solely as a place to educate kids about apple trees and sell fruit, which is in my book is agri-tourism. For that reason, I vote yes,” he said.
Commissioner Dee McKee…
“Because it’s suitable to the area, conditions are acceptable for that area,” she said.
Commission Chair Pat Weixelman…
“I’m going to write down educational purposes for the kids and seeing whatever you do related to number 5, you’re not going to please everybody, so there you go,” he said.
Commissioners must consider five key factors — character of neighborhood, zoning and uses of nearby property, possible detrimental effect, the length of time it’s remained vacant as zoned and the relative gain to public safety as a result of denying the request compared to the hardship imposed on the individual landowner.
Commissioners decided to table any further action on conditions for an event space until June 20 for both the Ferkol property, as well as a proposed wedding venue on property owned by Steven and Deb Swoyer. The commission won’t meet next Monday, due to the Memorial Day holiday and will be taking up rock quarry C-U-P requests on June 6th.
Some of the same hangups hampering commissioners continue, including that of noise mitigation. Both Riat and Weixelman favor doing things to mitigate noise however possible at both sites.
“I still think there needs to be some type of a noise regulation put in there. I know we don’t know that now. It’s out there, I just haven’t had time (to find it). The other thing it talks about on your different deals, like the roads, as far as needs of the public or hardship imposed on individuals, I’m not sure roads wouldn’t come in on public health, so that’s a bit of a concern,” Riat said.
Planning and Zoning staff have long taken requests from property owners wanting conditional use permits to draw out plans years in advance of potential ventures they might be interested in. County Planner Stephan Metzger says this has been standard operation to mitigate the necessity of multiple hearings before the county commission. Commissioner Weixelman favored an alternate approach, to just have hearings for items one to two years out.
“Anybody can throw it out there, give me a C-U-P for 10 years and I might do this or I might do this. Things change. That’s what I’m trying to get at. Things change over that period of time,” he said.
Both requests for C-U-P’s have already been approved by the Planning Commission, each by 6-2 votes. The Swoyer property had a valid protest submitted, which means, if the commission approves the plan it must be unanimous, since state law requires a governing board to have a three-fourths majority. A simple majority is needed to approve the Ferkol request since there was no protest submitted.