Marion County commissioners met with Marion city officials Dec. 29 to discuss a conditional-use permit for the former Straub building for government use that was recently purchased by the county.
The building was originally zoned commercial-agricultural.
Emma Tajchman, county planning and zoning director, and Clayton Garnica, representing the city in a similar capacity, asked and answered questions so the process could be completed soon.
City Administrator Roger Holter said he was excited to learn the county’s commitment is in keeping the operation within the city.
“Open communication and strong stewardship is important in developing the plans for this site,” Holter said. “There are no obstacles that can’t be overcome.”
Commission Chair Randy Dallke said the consensus of the board was for one conditional-use permit encompassing all plans for current and future use.
“This would be the best course of action instead of applying for a CUP each time a change occur,” Dallke said. “We purchased the building to try to move the county forward and solve some immediate and future needs at a cost that is reasonable for citizens.”
Commissioner Dan Holub said there are some immediate uses proposed for the former Straub facility, such as housing the Road and Bridge shop, a fuel station that includes above-ground fuel tanks, equipment storage, tire an sign storage and offices.
Garnica said: “Traffic concerns and having a designated route to the main highways for heavy equipment going around town instead of through would be necessary.”
Visual impacts, he added, include building placement and screening, maintaining environment and keeping chemicals contained in proper storage units.
Another concern would be noise and the impact that would have on the surrounding neighborhood, Garnica said.
“Infrastructure was another issue,” he said. “The county would need to upgrade the waterline to a bigger line.”
Garnica said the county could meet these demands and also install an underground electrical service.
Sewer line capabilities were discussed. Holter noted that the facility currently is served by a 1-inch waterline and a 4-inch sewer line to a pump, then a 2-inch discharge line.
“A larger waterline will likely be needed,” Holter said. “In addition, there is no fire hydrant on site.
Said Garnica: “I have asked for a site plans and what the county wanted to accomplish with the property for the next 10 years so we can see what the future holds for that property.”
Tajchman said the biggest piece would be the site plan; Garnica said he would provide guidance where possible.
Garnica reviewed the need for a timeline.
“Once the county turns in the conditional-use permit application, it will then need to be published in the newspaper—giving 20 days in-between the publication and a public hearing.”
The next planning and zoning meeting for the city will be Jan. 31, which the commissioners and Tajchman said would be too soon.
But the city’s next planning and zoning meeting is Feb. 28.
“I have been working with (Tajchman) to accomplish this as quickly and as thoroughly as possible,” Garnica said. “The county has been very understanding in what the city needs for this to happen and we, as a city, have built a good relationship with (the county) to make it happen.”
Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said he agreed.
“We need to get it done right the first time,” Heitschmidt said. “I don’t anticipate any issues with that.”
Heitschmidt told the commissioners they have the city’s support for moving operations nearer to the outskirts of town.
Dec. 30 meeting
County commissioners met Dec. 30 for mostly administration business.
Dallke asked if the Road and Bridge Department’s budget would be responsible for purchasing the Straub building at the cost of almost $379,000.
County Clerk Tina Spencer said part of the purchase could come out of the Road and Bridge budget, but multiple county offices will be housed in that building.
“The county general fund should buy it,” she said.
Dallke raised the issue of how the sheriff’s budget addresses encumbrances.
“I wonder what other county employees think when they see one employee in the sheriff’s office get $9,000 to $10,000,” he said. “Maybe at some point in the future (Sheriff Robert Craft) can answer those questions.”
When Dallke asked Renae Riedy, county extension agent, if she has a counterpart in McPherson. She said yes.
“This opens up a lot of advantages,” Dallke said about a proposal to unify with McPherson County. “But there have been no questions about how the committee will meet all the concerns as we move forward.”
The commissioners passed the extension district resolution by a 3-0 vote.
Spencer said the Marion County Economic Development Tax Force was allocated up to $8,000; of that, the group has spent about $1,285.
Commissioners talked about a resolution to close a section of Limestone at 80th Road and U.S. Highway 50. The road closure was addressed by Reeves; Spencer said he did get bids, but hasn’t gotten back with the commissioners to review them. Dallke said the bottom line is if Reeves doesn’t want to do this it’s still a good deal for the county, and also good for two other farmers who were present the day the road was discussed.
Commissioner-elect Dianne Novak said the two farmers who are wanting the road closed are themselves in violation of the law on that road.
“One of the 50-foot roads is at 17 feet, which was damaged by the two farmers,” she said. “It is against Kansas statute to plow on those roads. Why close a road to impede a taxpayer and not enforce restitution from the farmers?”
Dallke said the road was a mess for years and deteriorated over time.
“We are setting a precedent,” she said. “The farmers contributed to the damage.”
Although the commissioners agreed, Holub said it wouldn’t be cost effective.
“We haven’t always had resources to prosecute,” he said.
EMS Director Ed Debesis said he had $18,363 to be written off on ambulance calls. Dallke said some of the write-offs could be from Medicaid or people leaving.
Spencer said, “The good news is we budget so much coming back through we have made projections and even with a large write off, EMS is more efficient.”