The Hillsboro City Council approved a Planning Commission recommendation during its April 16 meeting to grant a conditional-use permit to Sean and Adrienne Bechtold to operate a taxidermy business at their residence at 308 E. A St.
The part-time enterprise “has operated under the radar for eight years,” City Administrator Larry Paine wrote in a memo to council members.
Paine said the request for a permit came after the city received a complaint from a neighbor that basically said, “If I have to have a conditional-use permit for a home business, then he needs one, too.”
At its March 28 meeting, the Planning Commission had reviewed the application. One neighbor had complained about the business prior to the meeting, but did not attend it. Several other neighboring households were represented.
Paine reported the primary concerns of the neighbors were: traffic in the alley behind the home, chemicals used in the process, disposal of those chemicals and disposal of animal remains.
During the Planning Commission meeting, according to Paine, Sean Bechtold volunteered to dispose of animal remains in a burn pit at a relative’s farm. He also would keep a record of each disposal.
“This was a condition that the applicant wanted to impose on himself,” Paine said.
Two neighbors were present at the city council meeting. One of them, Marlene Fast, is a city council member. The other, Betty Barr, has in the past operated a bed and breakfast next door to the Bechtolds.
Both neighbors referred to the discovery of an animal skull in a yard, which Bechtold said had occurred because he had put the skull in a cardboard box for trash pickup. The box likely was torn open at night by an unidentified animal.
Paine said Bechtold readily admitted he had made a mistake, and said he would not repeat it.
Barr mentioned during the council meeting that an acquaintance of hers had seen an animal carcass hanging from a tree in Bechtold’s backyard.
People present at the council meeting replied that it is a common practice for hunters to do that.
Ben Steketee, the city’s code-enforcement officer, said Bechtold had assured him he would keep carcasses out of public view in the future.
Barr also was concerned that Bechtold was wanting to build a shop for his business in his backyard. She expressed concerned that, given the available space, the structure would be built over a gas line.
Steketee assured her that, given the dimensions of the yard and of the intended structure, the project could not qualify for a building permit because of setback requirements.
Given Bechtold’s commitments to address past issues, the council approved a conditional-use permit by a 3-0 vote with Fast abstaining. Council members encouraged the neighbors to inform the city if additional issues arise.
Noise permit for Tabor
The council approved a loudspeaker/sound amplifier permit for Tabor College to accommodate the annual “Taborstock” live-music festival planned for 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, May 4, on the campus.
The applicant, Sara Sigley, adviser of the college’s Student Activities Board, asked that the permit take effect at 10 a.m. to allow time for sound checks, and be extended to 9:15 p.m. “just to be safe.”
Council members recalled that one resident had complained last year that he had not been notified of the festival. Fast, who is employed at the college, volunteered to inform that resident personally.
In other business, the council:
• watched as City Clerk Jan Meisinger led a swearing-in ceremony for newly re-elected council members Fast and Bob Watson, and for Mayor Delores Dalke.
• re-elected Byron McCarty as council president. The president leads the council meetings when the mayor is absent or unable to serve.
• meeting as the Public Building Commission, elected Fast as the new PBC chair, succeeding Watson. The PBC was formed to oversee the city-owned property and facilities being used by Hillsboro Community Hospital and Salem Home.
• heard Paine report that the process to annex land along U.S. Highway 56 for the purpose of building exit and entry lanes at Adams Street had been slowed by the discovery that three portions of the highway are actually legally owned by private individuals.
Because the burden rests with the Kansas Department of Transportation to address this particular ownership issue, Paine said the hitch would not become an “obstacle” for the city.
• approved a payment request of $24,281 from Barkey Construction for initial work completed for the street-improvement project involving Birch, Cedar and Date streets.
• heard McCarty ask about improving the lighting at the Tabor College crosswalks along D Street. Mayor Dalke reported she had spoken via a phone conversation with Tabor officials earlier in the day about that topic. The conversation also addressed better lighting behind the student townhouses along Adams Street. Dalke said city and college officials would be getting together soon to discuss a plan to bring additional lighting to those areas.
• re-elected Mike Duerksen as the city’s No. 1 director and Paine as the city’s No. 2 director on the governing body of the Kansas Municipal Energy Administration.