Commissioners OK initial list of zoning concerns

The Marion County Commission Monday was able to approve a list of zoning concerns for consultant Scott Michie to begin revising the county’s comprehensive plan.

But commissioners also called for an early May meeting to further clarify the plan’s direction.

With some direction toward allowing home building on smaller acreages than before all but certain, the commissioners also were able to question other concerns.

Commission Chairman Howard Collett asked Planning and Zoning Director David Brazil why the current plan calls for squared off small acreages when irregular shapes might sometimes be used to advantage “to follow the lay of the land.”

Brazil said square shapes are used for clear boundaries to avoid later boundary disputes.

The three commissioners said they had a sense to change the wording to allow adjustments in land shape according to terrain.

Collett wondered about failing to address situations “that in no way could be uplifting to human sensibilities,” for instance attempting to keep five horses on five acres resulting in a house in the middle of a large bare lot.

Commissioner Leroy Wetta said he wanted to protect No. 1 and No. 2 classes of agricultural soil, but he wondered about using that as a totally inclusive guide.

Brazil said current use of land could also help determine future use along with soil type.

Commissioner Bob Hein reiterated, along with Collett and Wetta, that Michie needs “to give us a lot of guidance” on specific wording for the plan.

Collett said the commission also would need to consider what businesses and conditions might be allowed on small acreages. For instance, beauty shops might be allowed but limited according to number of employees and parking area.

Other things that might face restrictions could include churches, wind electrical generation and factories.

Wetta pointed out that current guidelines allow for agricultural use on the minimal 40 acres allowed, but don’t always address well such things as golf courses and airports.

Hein said the commission will need to have a public presentation of the plan with time for public comment when it is written.

Brazil, who also is manager of the county solid waste transfer station, said facts are accumulating quickly enough on the station’s performance that commissioners should have a more solid idea whether initial planning is going as anticipated in May.

The transfer station sent 489.1 tons of household solid waste and commercial and demolition waste to the landfill last month for an average 19.97 tons per load on 26 loads.

The total of household and C&D waste for the year stands at 1,379.82 tons, Brazil said.

There was a 27th load of 7.26 tons of white goods, mostly appliances, sent out too, and the transfer station has accumulated 2.01 tons of tires, 1.75 tons of that in the last month.

Brazil said the station has sufficient room in its lower story to accumulate tires and white goods to the sides until they can be sent out.

The commissioners were asked by the press if tires could be ground to be added to road materials, but they replied that the steel in radial tires makes tires unsuitable for that use.

The station may show some income from sales of scrap iron in the future, Brazil said, at least enough to pay the cost of disposing of it, because scrap iron may increase back to the $13 to $15 a ton selling price.

Brazil said he continues to look for used truck scales to purchase of about 35 feet in length for use at the transfer station to relieve the need to have solid waste weighed at Cooperative Grain. He expected to have proposals for the commissioners in about two weeks.

Collett said the budget deficit for county employees’ health insurance of $22,000 announced last week has turned out to be $30,000 because the extra $8,000 wasn’t budgeted out for transfer station employees since it was added the first of the year.

Wetta pointed out that the commissioners have determined the transfer station must “stand on its own” financially, and it would have to pay its health insurance costs back to other county funds.

Hein said pulling money from one fund to another isn’t unusual when something is new in county financing, and a check showed the transfer station may have the money to pay back other funds already.

Ron Matteson from Koch Industries at Wichita demonstrated a new polymer oil for pavement sealing to commissioners that may replace former chip and seal asphalt methods.

Matteson, who has been working with Gerald Kelsey, road and bridge director, and Jim Herzet, road and bridge superintendent, asaid asphalt on roadways actually is a semi-solid that can become runny in summer heat or brittle and cracking in winter cold.

He demonstrated that adding the polymer oil to road solid surfacing makes it flexible so he could even twist a mass of it mounted between two boards in his hands.

The new substance gives an elasticity that allows the “road membrane” to flex with temperature change, and resist abuse that could tear it up including even snow plow blades, Matteson said.

The elasticity gives a rubber band effect that allows it to pull rock to the sealer back to it instead of being ripped up by traffice.

The commissioners, Kelsey and Herzet acknowledged they are receiving reports from other counties that the new matrial has improved surfaces and surface longevity on hard-surface roads.

Matteson said oil polymer materials cost 15 to 20 cents a gallon more than regular materials, or 8 cents more a square yard over the current 60 cents average for a 13 percent price increase.

Kelsey said the eight miles of Roxbury Road that were hard surfaced last year will be do for a second seal this summer, and “that would be a really good place to check this out.”

Bill Smithhart, noxious weed and household hazardous waste director, said household hazardous waste collections were held March 29 at Goessel with 15 participants and 429 pounds collected, April 5 at Lincolnville with 10 participants and 448 pounds of waste and 33 pounds of trash, April 12 at Peabody with 31 participants and 1,280 pounds of waste and 50 pounds of trash, April 14 at Florence with five participants and 217 pounds of waste and 31 pounds of trash, April 19 at Durham with 13 participants and 353 pounds of waste and 36 pounds of trash.

Smithart said the Marion facility was open April 5 and 19 with two participants the first day and five participants the second day with numbers down probably because of rainy weather.

JoAnn Knak, emergency medical service director, introduced John Ryding of Hillsboro to commissioners to receive their congratulations as Kansas EMT Associatio’s “EMT of the Year.”

Knak reported 65 ambulance calls in March-22 from Hillsboro, 28 from Marion, 14 from Peabody and one from Tampa.

Ambulance calls included 18 transfers, five cardiac, 23 medical emergencies, one standby, three vehicle accidents, three falls, nine no transports, one rescue truck, and two reports to be defined.

There were three first responder calls from Goessel, two from Lincolnville and one from Burns.

Knak said the eight EMT students in class will be tested May 24 in Wichita.

Instruction on how to lay out a helicopter landing zone will be given to EMTs May 12 at Goessel, she said.

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