Petition prompts reconsideration of rezoning plan

By The Mercury

Receipt of a valid protest petition Monday prompted Pottawatomie County Commissioners to send a rezoning recommendation back to the planning commission for further consideration.

A request by David Craft to rezone a nearly half-acre parcel on Dempsey Road just south of U.S. Highway 24 to allow construction of an apartment complex garnered a 5-2 recommendation by the planning commission. A subsequent petition from area residents protesting the rezoning, however, prompted county commissioners to ask the planning board to take a second look at the proposal.

With the filing of the petition, it would have taken a unanimous vote for the county commission to approve the rezoning from R-2 to R-3 (multiple-family dwelling).

Aside from the petition, commissioners were concerned about additional traffic and storm water runoff from an apartment complex in the area just south of the intersection of Highway 24 and Green Valley Road.

Commissioner Gary Yenzer said the area along Dempsey Road is flat with very poor drainage. Too, while improvements to Dempsey and the highway intersection are on the county’s long-range radar, there is no timetable for them.

Speaking on behalf of friends who live in the area, Judson Jones, rural Manhattan, agreed with Yenzer’s assessment.

“Guys, this area was called ‘Swamp Angel’ before anyone lived there,” Jones said, noting the poor water drainage. Approving zoning for multiple-family housing would be “putting the cart before the horse. Without improvements to Dempsey Road, (traffic) congestion there would be incredible,” Jones said, adding that even large trucks from the nearby Farmers Union Co-op use Dempsey Road to access Highway 24 at a stoplight.

In other business Monday:

• Leu Lowrey, public works director, recommended lowering by one-third the annual maintenance fee charged to 81 lots in the Brook Ridge Subdivision just south of Louisville. The fee, which generates between $4,500 and $5,000 annually, is used for maintenance of the sewer district formed for the subdivision.

Doug Dunafon, developer of the subdivision, recently asked the commission to eliminate the fee entirely.

“I know we have money in that fund right now, but one big incident and that’s gone,” Lowrey said. The county’s goal in developing the sewer district, Lowrey, added, was to generate adequate revenue for the system to pay for itself and avoid any subsidy from the county.

“We’ve been through that,” said Commissioner Stan Hartwich, referring to the Blue Township Sewer District. “It’s still fresh in our minds.”

There are currently 10 homes in the 81-lot Brook Ridge Subdivision.

“I just have a hard time charging him for 81 lots when you’re baling hay on most of the stuff,” said Commissioner Pat Weixelman.

At the recommendation of Robert Reece, county administrator, the commission deferred action until Reece could confer with the bond counsel regarding the legality of charging fees to just a portion of the lots in the subdivision.

• Gregg Webster, zoning administrator reported 25 building permits with a value of $3,728,660 issued in July. That compares to 18 permits issued in July of 2012, with a value of $2,149,921. Fifteen of the 25 permits issued last month were for new dwellings.

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