BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF DOUGLAS COUNTY, KANSAS
Public comment will be taken for each regular agenda item as each item is discussed. Individuals will be limited to one comment per agenda item. Individuals are asked to come to the microphone, sign in, and state their name. Speakers are asked to sign in so that the spelling of names is correct in the minutes of the meeting. Speakers should address all comments/questions to the Commission.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2019
4:00 p.m. WORK SESSION
-Discussion on City of Eudora Urban Growth Area (Barack Matite)
5:30 p.m. BUSINESS MEETING
(1) (a) Consider approval of Commission Orders;
(b) Consider contract award for a chiller replacement in the judicial and law enforcement center (Dave Sparkes);
(c) Consider awarding a contract in the low bid amount of $537,915.15 to King’s Construction Co., Inc. for construction of Project No. 2019-12, improvements to E 1750 Road north of Route 12. (Keith Browning); (DEFERRED)
(d) Consider approval of the minutes from June 5, June 19, June 26 and July 31, 2019;
(as deferred from the August 14 meeting); and budget hearing minutes for June 27, July 1, July 3 and July 8, and August 12, 2019 canvass;
(e) Accounts payable.
(2) CUP-19-00282: Consider a Conditional Use Permit for the Hunter’s Crossing Event Center, located on approximately 80 acres northeast of the intersection of E. 1500 and N. 900 Roads. Submitted by Eugene George (aka Walter E. George), property owner of record. Mary Miller is the Planner.
(3) Consider approval of a moratorium on rural Certificate of Surveys outside the Urban Growth Area (Tonya Voigt)
(4) Further discussion of hiring the County Administrator position (no backup)
(5) General Public Comment
General Public Comment will be at the end of each meeting with a limit of one comment per person and keep their comments brief. Individuals may not give unused time to other speakers. As a general practice, the Commission will not discuss/debate these items, nor will the Commission make decisions on items presented during this time, rather they will refer the items to staff for follow up, if necessary.
(6) Committee Reports
(7) Commissioner and/or Administrator Miscellaneous
August 21, 2019
Derusseau called the Work Session to order at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 with all Commissioners present.
WORK SESSION 08-21-19
The Board held a work session to discuss the City of Eudora Urban Growth Area (UGA).
Attendees included: Commissioners Derusseau, Thellman and Kelly; Barack Matite, Eudora City Manager; Dave Knopick, City of Eudora Planning Consultant; Sarah Plinsky, Interim County Administrator; Mary Miller, Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Staff; and Tonya Voigt, Co-Director of Zoning and Codes.
Matite asked the County Commission to consider a letter of request to recognize the revised designed Eudora Urban Growth Area for the purposes of applying the Douglas County Subdivision Regulations specific to the UGA. Matite presented a draft map with a proposed Tier 1, 2 and 3 system for development areas. Tier 1 would serve as a community within the city limits or surrounding city limits. Tier 2 would be property adjacent to the City limits, and Tier 3 would be land beyond the growth scope. The hope was that the design would be incorporated into the Horizon 2040 plan for the County. Tier 2 would require signing an annexation agreement or required immediate annexation. Tier 3 would be developed to rural standards with a 20-acre minimum or larger.
· The Comprehensive Plan has not been adopted yet. The City of Eudora is working from a plan that has not been formalized. This proposed design would be a big assumption.
· The County is working on subdivision regulations for next year and a new flood study to identify issues with flooding.
· Under the current regulations, because Tier 1, 2 and 3 have not been approved, the entire UGA would be under the same regulations as Lawrence and Douglas County. Cluster developments would be allowed in both Tier 2 and 3 until new regulations have been set.
· One thing the County wants to prevent in the UGA is flooding. There are three watersheds in the UGA with old floodplain maps. We have a request with the State to have a new map model. We don’t want to put buildings in areas that shouldn’t be developed.
· The City of Eudora wants to put development closer to their city, and use city utilities. The City of Eudora wants to send a clear message to land developers not to expect city utilities outside the Tier 2 area.
· The City of Eudora would prefer clustered areas for utility extension as opposed to houses on 5-acre lots in the unincorporated area. It’s more difficult to string utilities to many areas. They prefer to be as rural as possible.
· It was suggested that Eudora Tier 3 be called The Urban Reserve instead. This area would not be expected to grow until Tiers 1 and 2 are exhausted.
· Saving prime farmland is a great value to the County. More than that, planned infrastructure saves the County money as opposed to scattering houses on small parcels across the County.
· City of Eudora plans to tweak the UGA map and define lines and terminology to match the Comprehensive Plan and return to the Board of County Commissioners in the future with an interlocal agreement for consideration.
At 5:03 p.m., the Board recessed until the 5:30 p.m. Business Meeting.
The Board reconvened at 5:30 p.m. for the regular Business Meeting.
CONSENT AGENDA 08-21-19
Kelly moved approval of the following Consent Agenda:
► Commission Order No. 19-041 on file in the office of the County Clerk;
► Accepted the low bid and approved a contract with Piping Contractors of Kansas in the amount of $188,890 for a chiller replacement in the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center and authorized the Interim County Administrator to approve change orders up to 5% of that amount;
► Minutes from June 5, June 19, June 26 and July 31, 2019;
(as deferred from the August 14 meeting); and budget hearing minutes for June 27, July 1, July 3 and July 8, and August 12, 2019 canvass; and
► Accounts payable in the amount of $825,040.44 to be paid on 08/22/19.
Motion was seconded by Thellman and carried 3-0.
Pulled from the agenda:
The item to consider awarding a contract in the low bid amount of $537,915.15 to King’s Construction Co., Inc. for construction of Project No. 2019-12, improvements to E 1750 Road north of Route 12 was deferred.
The Board considered CUP-19-00282, a Conditional Use Permit for the Hunter’s Crossing Event Center, located on approximately 80 acres northeast of the intersection of E. 1500 and N. 900 Roads. The application was submitted by Eugene George (aka Walter E. George), property owner of record. Mary Miller, Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Staff, presented the item.
The property is located within the Urban Growth Area (UGA) of the City of Lawrence. The proposal use meets the definition of an Agritourism use, except it exceeds the occupancy limit of 200 guests, which would allow it to commence through registration with the County as an Agritourism use. Therefore, a Conditional Use Permit is required. The applicant proposes a 7,920 square foot event center near the pond on the north side of the property, and estimates the maximum occupancy of the structure at 375 persons and has proposed an approximate 40,000 square foot gravel parking area with 100 parking spaces and an approximately 23,000 square foot grassed overflow parking area. The facility is planned to host weddings, receptions, conferences, and other similar uses.
Staff recommends approval of CUP.19-00282, a Conditional Use Permit for Hunters Crossing Event Center, based on the following Findings of Fact:
I. Zoning and uses of surrounding properties. The area is primarily zoned for agricultural uses with a platted subdivision to the northeast zoned A-1 (Suburban Home Residential) District. Much of the area has been divided into small parcels or lots for residential development; however, some of these parcels have not yet been developed and are currently in agricultural use. Agriculture and rural residential are the primary land uses in the area. The proposed use, with proper site design and conditions of use, should be compatible with the surrounding zoning and land uses.
II. Character of the area. The area has been heavily divided for rural residential development. Rural residential and agriculture are predominate land uses. Higher classification roadways are located in the area with N. 1000 Road providing access to Highway 59 to the west. The proposed use, with proper site design and appropriately conditioned should be compatible with the character of the area.
III. Suitability of subject property for the uses to which it has been restricted. The subject property is well suited to agricultural use and is currently being used as a hayfield. The property, with its access to the higher classification road system, is also suitable for the proposed event center. The event center would function as an agritourism use, allowing a commercial use on agricultural land to generate additional income.
IV. Length of time subject property has remained vacant as zoned.The property has never been developed and has been used for agriculture purposes since the adoption of the Zoning Regulations in 1966.
V. Extent to which removal of restrictions will detrimentally affect nearby property. Conditions and restrictions of use applied with this conditional use permit as well as the overall design of the building and the type of lighting proposed should minimize negative impacts from the event center on nearby properties and land uses.
VI. Relative gain to the public health, safety and welfare by the destruction of the value of the petitioner’s property as compared to the hardship imposed upon the individual landowners. Approval of the application would allow the development of an agritourism use on the subject property while maintaining the agricultural use. Denial of the application would not benefit the health, safety, or welfare of the public as the conditions applied to the conditional use permit and the site design should minimize any negative impacts.
VII. Conformance with the Comprehensive Plan. The conditional use permit is in conformance with the recommendations in the comprehensive plan regarding the protection of high quality agricultural lands.
VIII. Professional staff recommendation. Staff recommends approval of the proposed conditional use, an event center/Recreation Facility and forwarding it to the Board of County Commissioners with a recommendation for approval based on the findings and subject to the conditions noted in the staff report.
And subject to the following revised conditions:
1) The applicant shall provide an executed annexation agreement, including consent to annexation, to the Planning Office prior to the release of the conditional use site plan to the Zoning and Codes Office for processing of building permits.(deleted)
2) The following conditions and restrictions of use apply to this event center, and shall be noted on the plan:
a. Occupancy may not exceed 375 attendees/occupants.
b. Hours of operation shall be limited to:
- Sunday through Thursday: 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM
- Friday and Saturday: 8:00 AM to 12:00 Midnight
3) Alcohol, when included with an event, shall be provided by caterers and serving shall cease at 10:00 PM, Sunday through Thursday, and at 10:30 PM, Friday and Saturday.
4) Outdoor amplified music, when included with an event, shall cease at 9:00 PM and is limited to no more than 2 hours.
5) The conditional use is limited to the building and the outdoor area to the northeast of the building.
6) Outdoor lighting shall consist of 3000K LED lights in the parking/access drive area and recessed lighting in the building overhang, in addition to one security light.
7) Outdoor lighting shall be on only when the facility is in use, with the exception of the security light.
8) There will be no overnight use such as camping or other overnight lodging.
9) Fireworks are not permitted with events.
10) Outdoor music festivals are not permitted with this conditional use permit.
11) The access drive to E. 1500 Road shall be moved to the south of the tree line.
Thellman stated there are a lot of parcels owned around this property with no houses. She asked if those property owners were notified. Miller responded the landowners within 1000 feet of the proposed site were notified 20 days prior to the Planning Commission meeting.
Eugene George, applicant, stated he is a third generation dairy farmer on this property.
Brittney George, daughter of applicant, stated the family farm would no longer support dairy farming so the family came up with the event center proposal. B. George said are not many venue options in Douglas County that will accommodate 300 plus people. She feels insulation is the key to not disturbing the neighbors. The average wedding size is 120-135 people, so the center wouldn’t be hosting 375 people every weekend. She stated she feels the asphalt road should withstand the increase in traffic and family plans to reconstruct the exiting 4-acre pond.
Thellman commented that the Planning Commission raised concerns about the condition of the pond. It seems to be the center piece for the event center, but the Planning Commission didn’t press the issue of who would be fixing the pond issues. E. George stated he plans to have someone drain the pond, clean it out and put in a plastic tub. He was told by a contractor that raising the tube would stop the leak and raise the water level a foot.
Laura George, applicant, stated the pond is in bad shape and the family plans to repair it if the event center received approval. Otherwise, they will get rid of it.
Thellman asked that because the pond is such an important draw, is it the intention of the applicant get the pond back in a healthy condition and then move forward with the center. E. George stated he will have to get bids first, however there is no way to clean the entire pond out.
Thellman asked if the applicant has had an engineer that is experienced in ponds give a bid and if the bids are too much would that end the plans for the center. E. George stated the pond is the key and it might be cheaper to build a new pond on his 80 acres.
Derusseau stated concerns about the outdoor events creating too much noise. She asked if the applicant planned to have events outside until closing hours. E. George stated the wedding would be outside, but the food and DJ music would be inside the event center with a two-hour time limit on the music.
Derusseau asked about the cut-off time for serving alcohol. E. George stated there was a mistake on the application. He planned to cut off alcohol an hour before the event end.
Kelly asked if there would be music used for events outside other than weddings. B. George stated yes there would such as celebrations of life, cocktail parties before weddings, etc.
Thellman stated she has a concern that if the event center doesn’t work out, the landowner may decide to split the property into more lots. That can be solved doing a Set-Aside Agreement on the land the applicant is farming to keep it undeveloped.
Derusseau opened the item for public comment.
Erin Callahan-Halpin, 981 E 1549 Road, stated she is opposed for the CUP. Her property meets up with the development on two sides. If she had known about the proposed center, she would not have bought her lot. Callahan said she is concerned about sound traveling and is considering moving.
Patrick Halpin, 981 E 1549 Road, stated his concern is that the property in question is outside the UGA and said a seven-day a week business could open the door to more commercial business in the area, which is not why he moved to the country.
Sean Franklin, 980 E 1531 Road, said he did not receive notification about the CUP. There is nothing in the covenants and restrictions he signed about the event center. He is concerned about the amount of traffic on N1500 Road and the noise the center will generate.
Paul Ohlert, 962 E 1531 Road, stated concerns that the event center will affect this property value. He lives on a private road and is concerned about the cost of maintenance for wear and tear caused by additional traffic coming to and from the event center at no cost to the applicant.
Virginia Eddy, 1525 N 900 Road, said she was never notified about the CUP. She questioned why she did not receive a letter. She also had concerns about cars, loud music, people noise and the applicant’s ability to maintenance the grounds properly.
Grant Ellis, 1525 N 900 Road, stated he feels having a party center in his backyard will impact his property value. He said only the event center will profit from its existence. This is bringing the city into the rural area.
Miller responded to the inquires about the notification process by stating the Planning Office provides letters to properties within a 1,000 feet of the applicant’s property boundaries.
Greg Dick, Douglas County resident, stated he owns two lots in Hunter’s Crossing and would not have purchased them if he had known about the proposed event center. He said many of his neighbors feel the same. He also has concerns about noise and traffic.
Tayler Ezell, 977 E 1512 Road, said she is a new property owner in Hunter’s Crossing. She is worried about noise as her property backs up to the event center. She feels this center affects a lot of people and she is discouraged because she thought this would be her forever home and now she has to contend with this.
David Sparkes, Douglas County resident, said he owns lot 8 in Hunter’s Crossing and was just outside the 1,000 feet notification area. He said lot owners will have to pay to maintain the private road and vehicles have already damaged the road. He agrees with the others that spoke about noise concerns. He said he bought his property because he thought it was a quiet area.
Derusseau asked who would maintain the event center and be responsible for supervising and closing the events. E. George stated someone from his family will be at the center during the entire event.
Derusseau also asked E. George if he will be responsible at closing time to make sure people don’t loiter in the parking lot and that they leave the property. E. George responded, yes.
Derusseau asked if the entrance would be gated. E. George said he would probably put a gate in.
Thellman stated she was disappointed the notification rule missed a lot of neighbors. She is not surprised that the neighbors were surprised. She understands that no one wants to see change, but this is a big change. This was a big enough agritourism use that the County’s original planner said this proposal does not fit Tier 1 or 2 agritourism, so it was sent for a CUP process. If approved, it might be one of the biggest event center’s around. There are a lot of variables in this proposal and things we don’t know yet, like whether the pond can be fixed within the applicant’s budget, or whether to fill it in and build a new pond and move the event center to a new site. Thellman asked if it is financially feasible for the applicant to go back to a Tier 2 size of 200 people or less.
E. George responded he has not calculated numbers. He was comparing his site to the Stoney Point event center.
Kelly asked E. George if he visited with his neighbors about any concerns they might have about him putting in an event center. E. George responded he did tell some of his neighbors but they were not within the 1,000 foot notification area.
Kelly said in his experience with CUPs, the applicant usually speaks with neighbors about concerns and conditions to create a neighborly environment. But as he’s heard today some of the neighbors did not have notice. He asked E. George if he would like more time to talk with his neighbors, or if he still wants to push forward with this CUP. E. George said he doesn’t want to upset his neighbors. He came up with the Event Center idea in March when the family started searching for venues for his daughter’s wedding. The concern with noise would probably be the same with 200 people or 350. He said he feels if the building is well insulated, the noise shouldn’t be a big deal. He has backed the outside music down to two hours, and he is willing to move the driveway to control the dust. He said he willing to work with the neighbors.
E. George asked what the process is if he decides to move the event center to a new location on the 80 acre property. Mary Miller responded moving the center a few feet may be done with a site plan change, but any significant move would require an amended CUP.
Kelly asked what the process would be if E. George and his family wanted to work with his neighbors to determine a scope for this project. Miller responded the County Commission can defer the item to work with his neighbors and report back to Planning Staff who would draft a new set of conditions for the Board to consider. And if they cannot work it out with the neighbors, the applicant can come back before the Board for a determination.
Derusseau closed public comment.
Thellman asked staff engineer Chad Voigt if this is a significant pond repair.
Chad Voigt, County Engineer, replied, yes it is significant. He said the pond serves eight acres with 30-acre/feet of water with the potential to have 70-acre/feet of water when it fills up. It was constructed between1966-1976. A lot of dams were constructed 50 years ago and a lot of them need work with pipe and spillway replacements. Because some need total reconstruction, some dams are being removed because of cost. This dam was permitted by the state, the only agencies with jurisdiction over the dam. The law that governed this dam was in place until 2013 when legislation rewrote the law. This is one of 2500 dams in the state that has no one reviewing it. It is now unregulated which mean the owner now has immense liability. If the dam fails, there is no agency with oversite. Voigt said working on this dam is very important. Replacing the pipe is necessary and he suggested getting an engineer involved for documentation, especially if the law were to change, to prove the changes were done to standard equal to what would be done prior to the law change. Also, if the lots to the southeast in the Certificate of Survey have houses on them that changes the classification of the dam, making it fall back under state jurisdiction. The owner could be caught in a trap from being unregulated back to being regulated. The owner would have to prove repairs were done to engineering standards. Voigt projected the repair cost to be $80,000-$100,000.
E. George stated after hearing this information, he would like more time and requested a deferral.
It was a consensus the Commissioners agreed and suggested the applicant meet with his neighbors to discuss how to keep the project rural in nature.
Kelly moved to defer CUP-19-00282, a Conditional Use Permit for the Hunter’s Crossing Event Center, a recreational facility on approximately 80 acres northeast of the intersection of E 1500 and N 900 Roads, with time for the applicant to meet with neighbors, get dam information and communicate back with planning staff to bring back before the Commission with the same or new conditions and more information about the pond. Motion was seconded by Derusseau and carried 3-0.
At 7:08 p.m., the Board to a recess.
The Board returned to regular session at 7:15 p.m.
ZONING & CODES/MORATORIUM 08-21-19
The Board considered the approval of a moratorium on rural Certificates of Surveys outside the Urban Growth Area (UGA). Tonya Voigt, co-director of Zoning and Codes, presented the item.
Voigt explained that at the last County Commission meeting on August 7, 2019, staff identified and discussed the dramatic increase in the number of development applications processed in 2018 in relationship to subdividing land outside the UGA. Those numbers highlighted the existing gap between how the current Zoning Regulations and Subdivision Regulations are implemented, and how that process doesn’t line up with the future goals of the Douglas County Comprehensive Plan. The Zoning and Codes Department has received a number of concerns from nearby landowners about the amount of working farmland being removed from production, the protection of those property owners who have invested in the County property they reside on, the how subdividing affects the rural area, the number of lots being created and the impacts on local roads. Because Certificates of Survey are administratively approved, neighboring property owners are often unaware of the changes until after the development parcels have been created and approved. At this time the only option for a concerned property owner to voice concern is to request an appeal to the County Commission when a Certificate of Survey application is submitted. The language is vague in the Subdivision Regulations and doesn’t outline a clear appeal process or factors the Board can consider when an appeal is received. Voigt read off the current appeal process and identified a list of Certificate of Survey applications received and where they are located within the County.
Discussion included the following:
• Staff to pursue modifying the subdivision regulations, do a text amendment change, and identify the factors for an appeal. Determine clear factors for the Board to be able to make a determination. That process would go before the Planning Commission taking 16-18 weeks.
• We are in the process of bringing draft Zoning Regulations to the public for review. A Work Session will be scheduled with the County Commission in the next few weeks.
• Recently there have been new housing additions that flooded that are in the 500 year flood plan and a person had to be rescued. Staff also wants to work on accurate floodplain maps. Funding is available at the state level to help with a remodel which is another reason to invest in a temporary moratorium before considering further subdividing parcels outside the UGA.
• There is concern that without a moratorium, there will be a rush of Certificate of Survey applications received during the text amendment change process.
• Currently there have been 16 Certificates of Surveys processed for 2019 not counting 10 applications pending.
• Staff discussed the current administrative process for a Certificate of Survey before it is signed off by the Planning Director.
• Staff proposed three temporary draft moratorium options:
1) A draft resolution providing for a moratorium on the processing of all applications, whether they have been submitted, reviewed, or administratively approved;
2) A draft resolution providing for a moratorium on the processing of applications received after August 21, 2019; and
3) A draft resolution providing for a moratorium on the processing of any application that has not received formal and final approval by the Planning Director as of August 21, 2019.
As directed at the August 14, 2019 Commission meeting, staff prepared a Temporary Moratorium for consideration on Certificates of Surveys for a six month period. This would give staff time to review the Zoning and Subdivision Regulations and receive public input and make recommendations to Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners for permanent changes to Certificates of Surveys, which would include neighbor notification to those outside of the Urban Growth Area.
Derusseau opened the item for public comment.
Steve Sublett, 1119 E 1382 Road, stated he has been involved with subdivisions since 1982. He agrees there should be a moratorium. In his opinion, a piece of land for a house should be determined by the amount of land needed to support a septic tank. The County should determine land needs for development by process of growth rather than someone jumping out and building a subdivision.
Cindy Hornberger, 535 Samantha Avenue, stated she has an amended Certificate of Survey pending. Hornberger is dividing her property for family. They are not developers. She said was told by Planning staff she was eligible to divide her property into five lots, though she only needed three lots: one for her family, her sister and her son. Hornberger said she understands her neighbors concerns about rural development and she is currently in the process of amending her COS to reflect family use only, three lots. She asked the Board to allow the amended COS to go through and not be subject to a moratorium.
Stan Tiemeyer, 1731 E. 975 Road, said he has been working on a Certificate of Survey for six months and asked that the moratorium not hold up his project.
Bobbi Flory, Homeowners Association, said she doesn’t understand why there was a spike in Certificates of Surveys in 2018, but it may be people building coming off the recession from 2007. She feels rural and agricultural development in the unincorporated area should be based on Horizon 2020, not Horizon 2040 because the public hasn’t had a chance to weigh in on it yet. She does not feel there is an emergency situation that would constitute a moratorium.
Lindsey McCay, 1961 N 1200 Road, said she feels badly for the two families with pending Certificate of Surveys (COS), but she does feel this is an emergency situation. Her property is adjacent to some of the COSs pending. She does not agree with taking prime agricultural land out of service for subdivisions. If these Certificates are approved, she will literally be looking out her window at a housing development. She asked that the Board consider a moratorium for at least the unincorporated area outside the UGA.
Dean Grob, 3210 Mesa Way, stated he is a civil engineer and has been a part of the Certificate of Survey growth in the UGA. He feels very few have involved prime soil or floodplain area. He feels the moratorium as written would affect Certificates of Surveys in and outside the UGA.
Myles Schachter, 888 E 1180 Road, stated he has been a Planning Commissioner and was hesitant to approve rural subdivisions. He believes subdivisions should be inside the UGA to preserve farmland. He said rural subdivisions do not pay for themselves, though they do help the water districts. To provide services, for example fire response and school buses, infrastructure costs are upside down. He feels the moratorium is justified. The County needs to evaluate what needs to be done.
Lee Boyd, 738 E 500th Road, suggested the County require 20 acres for one house, 40-acres for two houses. He strongly supports the moratorium. He added that once building has started, you can’t go back.
Charlie Thomas, Douglas County resident, said the County has a tone that should not be disregarded during the planning stage. He feels development is about land use and communication. The County needs to look at those impacted by what happens around us. Once a development goes in, farmland is gone. He supports the moratorium for option 2.
Marshall McGinnis, 4524 Harvard Road, stated he understands the needs for regulations and planning. He said it is difficult to find land in the unincorporated area then there is a litany of regulations that you have to meet in order to build a house on it. He has already submitted an application for a Certificate of Survey. A moratorium would cut off his opportunity to build a house. He feels there are already regulations in place to address the COSs that are being approved that are not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
Cheryl Thomas, 673 E 475 Road, was under the impression building in the unincorporated area required 20 acres, but recently found that was not the case. She has concerns about how an increase in traffic would affect the safety on the narrow roads. Building would affect the wildlife and her right to a quiet, rural lifestyle. She supports requiring subdivisions to be developed in the UGA and an option 1 moratorium.
Derusseau closed the public hearing.
Thellman asked for clarification that a moratorium would not prevent a person from building one house on one lot. It would prevent people from doing multiple splits. Voigt stated that is correct as long as the property was grandfathered in and can meet the current regulations for road frontage.
Derusseau asked if the moratorium can pertain to property outside the UGA only. John Bullock, County Counselor, the moratorium can be drafted to include both the UGA and property outside the UGA, or either/or.
Voigt said she would like the option to bring a request before the Commissioners for guidance when there is a safety issue, even if the development meets the current regulations. Derusseau said not that she wants to create more regulations, but when we are talking about flooding and remodeling the floodplain maps and these safety concerns, this may be a separate issue we need to look at. Voigt said staff will be discussing this with the Commission in the near future.
Derusseau stated any moratorium chosen will be temporary for six months and we need to find a process that supports Horizon 2020. She said she is leaning to Option 2, outside the UGA.
Kelly stated it has been interpreted we are concerned there is massive development going on in the unincorporated areas and everyone wants to subdivide lots into subdivisions. There are many out there that do want to divide property for reasonable reasons. But, that highlights the question “what are reasonable reasons?” Kelly stated we don’t have regulations for that. He feels it is appropriate to have a moratorium until we figure that out. There are lots of things to think about. He is concerned the community is getting less input and it’s reasonable to provide a moratorium for the neighbors to understand, visit with their neighbors and come to a resolution that allows a property to be divided. If not, then there are regulations in place. Kelly said he is supportive of the option 2 moratorium, for the parcels outside the UGA.
Thellman said with Option 2, those already in the process would be allowed to continue their Certificates of Survey process with the possibility of appeal. Neighbors will be notified and the public process will be more known.
Voigt stated she consulted with the County Counselor about voluntary notification. Creating a more transparent notification process is legal. Staff also agreed with the proposed moratorium Option 2.
Thellman added it is important to understand this is not about preserving prime farmland and rural character. It is the cost of unregulated, unmanaged growth. There is a greater cost to the County by scattering housing throughout the County and then adding utilities, such as better services, better roads and better utilities. But when you do lose something, you can’t get it back. There is also a burden on townships to take care of these unintended consequences. This changes the financial picture of rural countryside, such as flooding events.
Kelly moved to approve to issue a temporary moratorium on the receiving or processing of any application filed after August 21, 2019 for a Certificate of Survey within Douglas County outside the Urban Growth Area. Motion was seconded by Thellman and carried 3-0.
HIRING OF THE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR POSITION 08-21-19
The Board continued discussion on the hiring of the County Administrator position.
Kelly read an extensive list of expectations he had for the next County Administrator which included serving under the supervision of the Board of County Commissioners and to supervise the day-to-day activities and operations of the County. The Board will set the agenda, goals, ideas and vision for the County and it is the County Administrator who coordinates the activities to reach those goals. Kelly stated he feels this person needs to have a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and 2-3 years of job experience preferably in county government. Kelly added this is a huge job.
Thellman said she appreciated the broad overview by Commissioner Kelly. She called out the importance of County Government which is different than the City of Lawrence. She would like to see a sense of rural appreciation, people and rural land. Thellman also mentioned experience in departmental leadership, someone who doesn’t just understand planning, but someone interested in planning, and proactive in updating regulations. Collaboration is everything. Thellman said she would also value someone with knowledge of criminal justice and reform, behavioral health and social service safety nets,
and has competence in budget skills to continue the County’s clean audits and high rankings in finance.
Derusseau stated her candidate would need to have institutional knowledge, and understanding of where we’ve been and foresight for the future. But the most important quality is establishing relationships. The position of County Administrator is completely different than being a city manager. The County Administrator works with County Commissioners, nine Townships with three elected officials each (27 elected officials); there are important relationships with four cities (20 elected officials), five elected department heads, the Kansas 7th Judicial System and legislative elected officials, County department heads, numerous boards, organizations and community partners, and all the fire chiefs including volunteers. It is important the County has someone the community trusts; must have integrity, experience, intelligence, common sense, and understanding; and they must be approachable and flexible.
Derusseau opened the item for public comment.
Jim Flory, past County Commissioner, stated he was on the committee that hired the first ever Assistant County Administrator. He said the process was highly competitive and Sarah Plinsky was the top candidate. The committee wanted someone who could learn and grow under Craig Weinaug and be a candidate when he retired. Flory said Derusseau hit the nail on the head by saying the most important quality is establishing relationships. The County Administrator serves at the pleasure of the Commission, but does work with many people, as Commissioner Derusseau listed. Being able to establish good relationship and work well, he said Sarah Plinsky has all those qualities right here in Douglas County and with stakeholders. Flory said he disagrees that a nationwide search is necessary. He feels what the County is owed is someone “top notch” and he strongly urged the County Commission to select Sarah Plinsky as the next County Administrator.
Bonnie Lowe, The Chamber, said all of the words and descriptions she heard to describe a County Administrator if looked up in the dictionary would say “see Sarah Plinsky.” Lowe said she has worked with Plinsky for the last several years as her position as President of The Chamber. She finds Plinsky to be thoughtful, intelligent, has great communications skills and a professional. She appreciated working with Plinsky on the budget and said the words “collaborative, relationship and trust” stand out for her. Lowe said the business community, the City and this County are hungry to have a strong collaborative relationship again and we have the right people in place to do that and we all look forward to dropping the “interim” from Plinsky’s title.
Shannon Oury: Executive Director of Housing Authority, stated she can speak specifically to Plinsky’s ability to not only participate in collaboration, but lead it. As a member of the Behavioral Health (BH) Coalition, Oury said the process they have made was only due to Plinsky’s ability step in and keep that process going. She would be concerned to see a change in leadership with the BH process. It was Plinsky’s leadership skills working with members of a very diverse group that is creating a world class unique project for Kansas and the nation. Oury said she can speak to Plinsky’s integrity and it’s been a pleasure to work with her. She said she has the greatest respect for Plinsky and the County couldn’t do better. Oury said she would hate to see Douglas County lose the time needed on the BH project to do a search when your candidate is sitting in this room.
Kurt von Achen, County resident, said he came to support Sarah Plinsky for Douglas County Administrator. He told the County Commission he does not support a search. He said Plinsky’s institutional knowledge is important, but it’s more important that the County Administrator buy into the community and Sarah has certainly done that. She has his full support.
Steve Hornberger, Willow Township Clerk, stated he has worked with Plinsky for 10 years on some complicated personnel issues. Two important qualities he feels Plinsky has are her ability to think outside the box and most important common sense, two things he feels you don’t always find in leaders and people. He is supportive of Sarah Plinsky as County Administrator.
Derusseau closed public comment.
After further discussion, it was the consensus of the Board that Sarah Plinsky has all the essential outstanding qualities essential for the position of County Administrator.
Kelly moved to direct the County Counselor to seek to negotiate a contract of employment with Sarah Plinsky for the position of County Administrator, draft an agreement for the Board to discuss in executive session, and then finalize in open session. Motion was seconded by Thellman and carried 3-0.
APPOINTMENTS 08-21-19 - None.
GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT 08-21-19 - None.
COMMITTEE REPORTS 08-21-19
COMMISSIONERS AND/OR ADMINISTRATIVE MISCELLANEOUS 08-21-19
· The Commission will attend a luncheon meeting with the Judges on Friday, August 23 at noon.
Derusseau adjourned the meeting at 9:41 p.m.
Michelle Derusseau, Chair Patrick Kelly, Vice-Chair
Jamie Shew, County Clerk Nancy Thellman, Member