Rural zoning decision delayed



July 14, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Allen County commissioners Tuesday morning said they would take a measured approach to a request from the Humboldt Planning Board to make zoning of nearby rural areas compatible with that in Humboldt. The proposal would encompass an area two to three times the geographic size of Humboldt and require residents to comply with all regulations now re-quired of city dwellers. County zoning currently affects all areas outside municipalities.
The request is unusual for a rural community, said County Counselor Alan Weber.
“Traditionally it’s something you find in urban areas,” he said, such as outlying communities in the Kansas City area.
Commissioner Dick Works said the change might be a “little too much for my comfort level” and that the reason many people live outside city limits was to escape municipal regulations.
Commission Chairman Gary McIntosh asked if there was urgency to the request.
“Not that I know of,” Weber said, and added that “an area within a quarter or half a mile of town might make more sense.”
Legally, city zoning regulations may be imposed on rural residents up to three miles from the municipal border.
When Humboldt Administrator Larry Tucker passed along the request to commissioners earlier he said it was prompted by concern for orderly growth and eventual expansion of the city.

THE KANSAS Department of Health and Environment requires Allen County to maintain a fund in event money is needed for an emergency closure of all or part of the county’s landfill a mile southeast of LaHarpe. Initially, annual deposit required was $40,000. The amount has grown with the landfill and this year’s payment is $127,000. The fund contains nearly $900,000.
Commissioners wondered if they couldn’t just as easily pledge the county’s tax base — it’s valuation is about $89 million — as collateral, with the option of meeting an emergency through the county’s tax authority.
Weber will examine the issue.
Commissioners noted that closure of cells to date had been done out of pocket independent of the state-required fund. The new cell opened this year is expected to meet demand for another 10 years.

SCOTT PALECKI, a Wichita attorney who deals with emergency medical service issues, was hired as the county’s counsel for local EMS issues. If and when he is called on, Palecki will be paid $275 an hour.
Commissioners will walk through the new ambulance station, the remodeled Heartland Electric shops, 410 N. State St., Monday to determine if work is substantially complete. Contractor Dan Ware, Iola, said only a handful of things remained to be done.
Iola ambulances and their crews will move to the station before the end of the month.
Arlyn Briggs, Lone Elm, questioned why the county hired Charles Well of Healthcare Financial Advisors, Shawnee Mission, to help determine financial aspects of improvements to Allen County Hospital rather than use someone on staff or a local person.
“Don’t hire someone from the outside, train someone on the inside,” Briggs urged.
“This is a specialty and we need someone with expertise,” said Commissioner Rob Francis. “Wells has been involved with financing for 30 critical access hospitals,” in Kansas, McIntosh added.

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