On Monday the Leavenworth County Commission signed a board order that officials say is aimed at simplifying the process for some property owners to obtain building permits.
On Monday the Leavenworth County Commission signed a board order that officials say is aimed at simplifying the process for some property owners to obtain building permits. The signatures Monday came after a meeting last week during which the commission heard testimony and discussed for more than an hour two different versions of the board order. One was from the county’s own staff and had been approved by the Leavenworth County Planning Commission and the other was from an attorney representing a local Realtor. The central problem, according to County Planning and Zoning Director Jeff Joseph, are properties were split from larger tracts prior to 1998 using deeds and not through a platting or tract split process overseen by the Leavenworth County Planning Commission. As a result, there were a number of properties that had been sold that were coming forward for building permits but lacked adequate access by roads, minimum acreages or otherwise failed to meet current standards that would make them buildable. An Aug. 27, 1998, board order from the commission sought to establish a process by which those lots could be granted building permits by stating that they would be considered buildable if they met planning and zoning regulations from the time the deed was filed. It also established, according to Joseph, that the property owners would have to go through the platting or tract split process. But many properties remained out of compliance, he said. “So what we are trying to do is take that out of the picture,” Joseph said, to clarify and simplify the amnesty process. Joseph said the document he brought forward last week was a revision to the 1998 order that made changes in the amnesty process, making it unnecessary for the pre-1998 properties to come before the planning commission, provided those properties met lot size and road frontage regulations from the time they were established. A table of the required acreages and frontages for specific time periods starting in 1962 was included in the proposed revisions to the board order. In addition, residences being rebuilt on those tracts would have to meet state and federal regulations for flood plains and sanitary sewer systems. “It’s based on public safety,” Joseph said. Another version of the revisions to the 1998 board order was introduced by Merle Parks, an attorney for Realtor Dan Lynch. That version would allow deeds for boundary changes filed prior to July 1, 2011, to be considered buildable as long as they comply with “all design requirements for road frontage and acreage which were in force at the time of transfer.” That version also posits that homes being rebuilt would be considered buildable provided they comply with “all design requirements (road frontage and acreage) which were in force at the time of the original construction,” and makes no mention of sanitary sewer codes or flood plain regulations. Those who testified on the matter argued that previous county planning staff decisions had caused conflicts. Parks testified that some properties in the county had undergone boundary adjustments with adjoining landowners but have changed hands since then and new property owners are now discovering the changes as they apply for building permits. Joseph said properties that do not meet regulations can always be submitted to the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals. He also said that property owners can check with the planning and zoning department prior to purchasing a piece of property to ensure that it complies with regulations. The commission voted on and approved the proposal forwarded by planning and zoning.