Commissioners limit discussion on Monarch



August 12, 2015 - 12:00 AM

Looking ahead to next week, Allen County commissioners said Tuesday they would not take any more public testimony when they decide whether to accept a Planning Commission’s recommendation to permit Monarch Cement Company to mine shale north of Humboldt.
On Tuesday, in fact, they silenced two constituents who wanted to give statements relative to Monarch’s request.
Chairman Tom Williams maintained arguments could be heard only if both sides were represented.
“It would not be fair to Monarch,” he told Iolan Marilyn Jenkins, when she apparently arrived to give another take on her opposition to the permit. John Naff, Humboldt, got the same reception, although he had made an appointment to meet with commissioners.
“I want to have my say,” Naff said, which prompted Williams to give a tutorial on fairness. “If you were on Monarch’s side, or the reverse and against it, it would be extremely unfair to let you talk” without one or the other side available for rebuttal, Williams said.
“You have a great deal of power, whether you know it or not,” Naff told commissioners. “I’d like to see you use it fairly,” which led Williams to say each commissioner was willing to talk individually with Naff after their meeting.

He and commissioners Jerry Daniels and Jim Talkington gave Naff their telephone numbers.
In regards to the issue, Talkington said the speed on old Highway 169 north of Humboldt would be safer at 45 mph instead of 55 mph. Daniels proposed making inclement weather a part of a conditional use permit.
County Counselor Alan Weber said commissioners had specific duties in accepting the Planning Commission’s recommendation.
“You can’t substitute your judgment for the planning commission’s,” he said. “You should look at the facts that went into planners’ decision” to recommend the conditional use permit on a 5-0 vote. “What you do has to be more than a gut feeling. If you turn down the recommendation, you will have to articulate why.”
“I know we’re not going to make everyone happy,” Williams said.
“Quarries are allowed” in all land zoned for agriculture, Weber continued, with “the condition use (provision) there to limit negative aspects.”
When commissioners discussed conditions they might impose — reducing speed and an inclement weather rule — Williams warned, “If we monkey too much we’ll have a mess.” Weber added: “Less often is better than more.”
Commissioners will meet in the assembly room, courthouse basement, at 10 a.m. next Tuesday to decide the issue.

JOHN BROCKER, whose Allen County Realty auction division sold surplus equipment stored at the old Allen County Hospital in July, gave commissioners a check for $18,599.70, the county’s share of proceeds. Cost of the auction was $3,300, which commissioners allowed Brocker and his crew.
Weber said he had received offers for purchase of property south of Madison Avenue adjacent to the hospital, owned by the county. Originally, discussion had been apartment complexes might be built there, but Weber questioned if that would lead to overcrowding. Before a decision on sale, Weber asked for opportunities to “check on prospects.”
Tony Thompson, new Allen County Regional Hospital administrator, introduced himself to commissioners, so they could “put a name and face together.” Thompson said he had no specific commentary, but, in answer to a question, said the hospital board and department directors would meet in the fall to develop a strategic plan.
Mitch Garner, director of Public Works, told commissioners guardrails had been placed along the new bridge over Owl Creek two miles west of Humboldt and Kansas Department of Transportation engineers were to have inspected it Tuesday. “It’s open,” he said.
A new jet fuel pump at the county airport demonstrated its worth Monday, Garner announced, pumping 750 gallons into an airplane in eight minutes, a procedure that would have taken an hour and a half previously. He said new capabilities were being advertised online.
Iola-managed countywide ambulance service had 1,204 runs for the year through the end of July, Terry Call reported, an average of 5.68 calls a day. Revenue year-to-date totals $515,521.54, leading Call to predict annual income will be about $900,000. If that plays out the county will add $100,000 to make Iola’s support distribution $1 million.

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