Archive for Thursday, March 20, 2014

County inches closer to agritourism solution

Douglas County Courthouse

Douglas County Courthouse

March 20, 2014

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners took a step closer to solving its agritrourism regulations snafu Wednesday when it received recommendations from the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission.

County commissioners appeared to take a favorable view to the recommendations, which distinguish between smaller agribusinesses and larger commercial enterprises. But the board will mull over the memorandum for two weeks before voting April 2.

The proposed regulations define a Tier 1 agribusiness as one that provides parking for 50 or fewer vehicles, among other criteria. That type of business would not need approval from the County Commission to get its permit.

A Tier 2 operation would provide a maximum of 200 parking spaces and would be subject to approval from the County Commission.

Although the commissioners seemed open to the possibility of lowering the maximum parking spaces for both tiers, they appeared largely satisfied with the proposed codes.

"You've done a bang-up job with the input that you've got and we've come a long way," Jim Flory, third district, said to the planning staff.

Agritourism became a hot topic for the commission last fall, when an Overland Park couple submitted an application for their KC Pumpkin Patch, which included designs of a parking lot to accommodate 800 cars. Neighbors protested, prompting the commission to re-evaluate its zoning codes and registration process.

The committee also discussed the viability of adopting all or part of a proposed $6.5 million master plan of improvements for the Douglas County Fairgrounds, which features a new, open pavilion, expanded parking lot and other structures.

All three commissioners expressed enthusiasm for the project after comparing the plan to a list of the fairgrounds' deferred maintenance costs, totaling over $3 million, that will need to be addressed soon.

The commission asked Sarah Plinksy, assistant county administrator, for additional analysis on how annual operational costs would be affected should the master plan be adopted.

In other business, the commission:

• Formally adopted a burn ban across Douglas County to last until April 16.

• Deferred, for a week, a decision on a temporary use permit for a concrete batch plant at 1535 North 1300 Road. Almost a dozen citizens appeared to speak against the project, out of concerns for health and property damage from airborne dust. Flory suggested that Emery Sapp & Sons stipulate its daytime operation hours and a plan for fighting dust accumulation. The proposed concrete batch plant would serve the South Lawrence Trafficway project for 32 months.

• Approved a conditional use permit for a lodging house to be known as a hostel and banquet hall, located at 1804 East 1500 Ro

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