Commissioners still have questions about county plan

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Commissioner Leroy Wetta agreed to sit down with Zoning Director David Brazil this week to clarify parts of the new county comprehensive plan that troubled him at a Marion County Commission meeting Monday.

Brazil was urging final approval of the plan, which has been undergoing rewording by consultants to meet commission expectations, so it would be in place for new situations such as applications for windmill farms for electrical generation.

Commission Chairman Howard Collet said he agreed with some of Wetta’s concerns, and Commissioner Bob Hein said time needed to be given to work them out.

Wetta said that even though the county has a solid waste plan, the basics of solid waste policy also need to be outlined in the county comprehensive plan because its absence “could invite proposals that are not in line with our current policy leading to more controversy and legal problems.”

Wetta said that adding solid waste planning to the comprehensive plan becomes more critical because the detail of rural residential and soil classification point systems in the plan would serve to emphasize the lack of any mention of solid waste as indicative of no plan.

He added that if the comprehensive plan were to take longer so that wind farming regulations weren’t in place before applications, he would rather amend the comprehensive plan now in place to include wind farming as a stop-gap.

“If we don’t do this right, everything else will be screwed up from the getgo,” he said.

Wetta objected to language giving cities in the county “advise and consent” powers over zoning in city influence zones.

He said the language should be changed to asking cities to “advise and recommend” because “consent would give them final say over our responsibility. A city does not have precedence over our zoning and planning.”

Wetta wanted to join Brazil in “tweaking” language to protect agricultural lands from allowing five-acre residential lots in some areas, defining timber lands with 50 percent or more shading of land that might no longer be protected as agricultural land, and clarifying the point system to focus development on land where residential development already has ruined it for agriculture.

Jim Stang, rural resident from southwest of Marion, told commissioners the county attorney has written a letter on his behalf to the railroad asking that a crossing be corrected on 160th Road between Pawnee and Quail Creek where settling at the tracks has caused a three to four-inch drop for motor vehicle traffic.

He asked the commissioners to do all they can to get the railroad crossing corrected. He said the problem is exasperated by wet weather springs on other roads that limit access for many residents to the crossing.

Stang said road and bridge crew and other county officials have been helpful, but the railroad continues to ignore the situation.

Noreen Weems, elderly director, told commissioners the county board for Senior Citizens of Marion County has been able to help the county in its budget crunch with a 5 percent deduction of $3,750 from its 2003 budget reducing it from $74,996 to $71,250.

Weems said the board has been able to operate at $6,100 the first part of the year, and will make its 2004 proposal based on how well it can handle the reduction.

Weems said her department has made a commitment of $2,578 in local mill levy funds to meet an allocation of double that from the Kansas Senior Care Act for senior services in the county.

The commissioners approved a resolution presented by the sheriff’s office to charge a $45 jail booking fee to each offender, which would be added to the general fund.

Sales tax collected for May reported by the county clerk’s office was $37,199.43, down $11,649.41 total for the year as compared to the same time period last year.

The commissioners approved a total $5,923 area fuel bid from Cardie Oil of Tampa for 6,550 gallons of fuel in four areas.

The commissioners approved County Appraiser Dianna Carter’s plan to continue with plans to use $500 already budgeted to attend an International Organization of Appraisal Officers meeting in September in Nashville.

She said past experience has shown the meeting to be a valuable educational experience.

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