By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles concerning the denial of a rezone of property in northwest Seward County by the county commission in December. This story details the zoning regulations for rezoning a property from agricultural to agricultural residential. Future articles will look at the issues of the landowners themselves, as well as neighbors in the area and members of the county commission.
At a December meeting of the Seward County Commission, the board voted to move forward with a recommendation from the county’s planning and zoning commission to deny landowners in the northwest portion of the county the right to rezone from agricultural to agricultural residential.
The property in question is about 80 acres located near the intersection of Kansas Highway 51 and Road H, and what date an application was submitted by Don and Nancy Parsons, Emma Patrick and Luis Ortega.
The Parsons had a survey done and filed with the registrar of deeds’ office showing four parcels in March of 2008. That survey, however, was not done in compliance with new zoning regulations adopted by the county commission in February of that year. Those regulations went into effect upon publication that same month.
Planning and zoning administrator Marcie Weatherly said at the December commission meeting that a 20-acre parcel was sold to Ortega in June of 2009, and a letter informing Ortega and the Parsons that the plat split was done in accordance with zoning regs and that no building permits would be issued for the lots was sent on June 30, 2009.
On July 28, 2009, a second letter from then-zoning adminisrtator Stacy Johnson informed the Parsons and Ortega that the lots were created in compliance with the regulations, and this led the Parsons to continue with the sale of the other parcel.
Neighboring landowners attended two public hearings, one hosted by the planning and zoning board and the other by the county commission, opposing the change. The planning and zoning voted 3-2 following the public hearing by that board, and the county commission would later vote 4-0 with commissioner Jim Rice abstaining to uphold that
In an interview Wednesday, Weatherly explained the method for changing zoning districts for agricultural units.
“We have a standard rezoning process that is written in our regulations,” she said. “Applications for changes can be requested by landowners. It can be initiated by the governing body, or it can be suggested by the planning commission.”
After applying for a rezone, Weatherly said the request must go before the planning commission.
“They have to publish the notice of public hearing at least 20 days in advance,” she said. “The planning and zoning has a list of factors they have to review and make their determination. They send that recommendation to the board of county commissioners, and they (commissioners) have the final decision as to whether or not to rezone it. Each zone has allowable sizes and uses.”
Agricultural and agricultural residential are just two of several zoning districts listed in the regulations. Others include rural residential, suburban residential, single family residential and village.
As for the districts in question, Weatherly said sizes for agricultural districts are 40 acres or greater, and agricultural residential property can be between 10 and 40 acres. She said for most ag residential property, the county’s subdivision regs require platting for division of property.
“There are some exceptions, the main being if it’s more than 40 acres and it still meets all the ag requirements, it doesn’t have to be platted,” Weatherly said.
The county’s zoning regulations are on its Web site at www.sewardcountyks.org.