Commissioners debate mobile-home office for business

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Discussion on whether to allow an older mobile home to be used as an office at Neil Hett’s business, The Rock Shop on south Nighthawk Road, became a dominant subject at two meetings of the Marion County Commission Monday and at the Wednesday, Nov. 30, payday meeting.

Hett apparently traded labor for the mobile home formerly maintained as a residence at Marion County Lake. He said he hooked up electricity at the business for it to be used only as an office until such a time in the next few years that he can build a permanent office.

Hett said he had no plans ever to hook the mobile home up to a septic system.

Because of county zoning rules that don’t allow mobile homes to be located in rural areas but do allow modular and manufactured homes under certain provisions, Hett said he was notified by Zoning Director David Brazil that the mobile home office had to be removed in early December or face continuous fines until it was removed.

Commissioner Dan Holub repeatedly said that with the county’s intention to encourage new businesses, he would like to see provision made to allow Hett as a young businessman on limited budget to use the mobile home as an office until such time as he was able to build an office.

Brazil said as a public official he is only allowed to enforce the laws and rules as they are written, and not to make judgement calls on when to allow exceptions to them.

Holub contended that commissioners should have some flexibility in interpreting the codes and rules the county itself writes, seemingly separating that from more rigid interpretations of state and federal laws.

Holub said the intent of the rules should be to disallow new use of mobile homes for residential use and not to disallow temporary business use of a trailer already in the county just because its location was changed.

Eileen Sieger, planning and zoning board member, pointed out that consistency in county law is necessary or the county will find itself in new lawsuits as a result. She said that persons who have been turned down for their own uses of mobile homes may legally challenge the county if they believe the county allowed the rules to be bent in such a way that is inconsistent with the way they were treated.

Holub said the county shouldn’t always make decisions based on whether it could be sued.

Bob Maxwell, another planning and zoning member, said the proper procedure for Hett to follow is to take his request to the board of zoning appeals.

Maxwell said working guidelines and procedures are set up to follow as are other sets of rules as to whether people want to protest paying taxes or protest a traffic ticket. He questioned whether Hett was attempting to circumvent the rules by coming to the commissioners.

Commissioner Randy Dallke joined Holub in saying they wanted any fines or removal deadlines for the mobile home stopped while appeal is made.

Dallke said the mobile home had been taxed to the county’s benefits for years at its former location without being a problem, and he saw no reason to object to its current location.

Commission Chairman Bob Hein asked Brazil to make sure that those things are done for Hett, and to assist Hett through the appeals process.

Dallke received permission from the other commissioners to seek an alternative bid from Reno County for tipping bids on solid waste at its landfill for trash hauled from the Marion County Transfer Station.

“It’s time to find ways to save dollars,” Dallke said.

Hein said that in the last Commission “when we done this deal with Hamm (landfill at Perry where waste currently is taken), it was the best offer we had from anywhere. But it’s OK to ask anyway.”

Brazil said he has been satisfied with the way business is conducted at Hamm and the “fractured soil type” there helps insulate against any future problems.

He seemed to imply that the quality of the Hamm operation helps safeguard Marion County from any future problems, or that he liked less potential problems in the environment for other than monetary costs. Brazil said that this does not mean he has any problem with the Reno County operation.

Holub said that if Kansas Department of Health and Environment approves a landfill for use by the county, it should absolve the county from any litigation problems associated with solid waste left there in the future. He said he was disturbed by Brazil’s thought process that one landfill might be better environmentally than another despite KDHE approval because he wasn’t sure that was what Brazil meant to imply in earlier discussions.

Brazil said there is a difference in price and total cost.

“Price is in dollars and the costs are all across the board,” Brazil said.

In response, Holub said, “What’s our final standard here? Where do we go if KDHE isn’t the final word-the UN or somewhere?”

The commissioners and Brazil discussed probable renewal of the contract with Robinson Trucking of Florence for transport of waste to Perry.

Dallke said he would like Brazil to make periodic reports on what was happening financially under an agreement with Robinson that raises county waste transport costs 1 cent a loaded mile for each 10 cents a gallon increase in diesel costs.

Brazil said the contract with Robinson should be completed soon, but the commissioners said next week would be soon enough.

Brazil said three members of planning and zoning have terms expiring, and he recommended all three for reappointment. They are Ervin Ediger, Glen Unrau and Maxwell.

Maxwell was asked if he was willing to be reappointed, and after agreed, Maxwell was immediately reappointed by the commissions. He did ask with a smile afterward if they wanted to reconsider after the discussion.

The commissioners also received a final contract from the Kansas Department of Transportation carried by Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet, that gives the county $450,000 to rebuild and upgrade roads deteriorated by detour traffic during reconstruction of U.S. Highway 77.

Herzet told the commissioners the money will be there as far into the future as needed as long as the county is able to show KDOT receipts for needed work done.

At the Nov. 30 meeting the commissioners had a total payday pay-out figure of $899,592.30 that included $260,510.28 from capital improvement funds for road and bridge construction.

The September sales tax reported by County Clerk Carol Maggard was the highest on record for the years reported since before 1999 at $51,715.05.

The commissioners approved renewal of the cereal malt beverage license for Canada Bait.

They approved purchase of voting equipment by Maggard.

The commissioners questioned County Attorney Susan Robson about hiring a typist from her own law office instead of using a county typist for work on the delinquent property tax sale of real estate.

Robson replied that she couldn’t justify paying the cost of overtime to a county employee, and that the typist from her own office was less inclined to making mistakes on legal descriptions that have to be perfect.

The commissioners approved a fuel bid from Cardie Oil Co. of Tampa for $12,125.80 over a competitive bid of $12,347.45 from Cooperative Grain of Hillsboro.

Dallke said letters need to go out to members of the economic development director screen committee that the first applicant selected has turned down the job.

“We need to start again,” he said.

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