County approves one rezoning request, rejects another

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

A majority of Leavenworth County commissioners supported two rezoning requests Wednesday. But only one of the measures passed.

Both rezoning requests were the subject of valid protest petitions, which required support from at least four of the five commissioners in order for passage. One of the requests failed because only three commissioners voted in favor of it.

The first rezoning request considered Wednesday by commissioners concerned 96.26 acres of land at Sandusky Road and 234th Street.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a resolution to rezone this property from a rural residential zone with a minimum lot size of five acres to a rural residential zone with a minimum lot size of 2.5 acres.

The rezoning request was made on a behalf of developer Dan Lynch.

Lynch said the County Commission had provided a road map for proceeding with development for the property through the county's comprehensive plan. The zoning change complies with the comprehensive plan's future land use plan.

"I don't see any way we can tell him we can't develop this," Commissioner Mike Stieben said.

Because of the close proximity to the city of Tonganoxie, the land will be developed, Stieben said.

He said the question was what was the best development for the land. He suggested the city of Tonganoxie could annex the property, which could allow up to seven houses on each acre.

He argued that allowing country estates to be built on 2.5-acre lots creates a buffer from growth from the city.

While he supported the first rezoning request, Stieben said he saw a distinction between it and the second request.

The second request involved about 138 acres of land at 22852 Dempsey Road. The owners of this property also were requesting a change from a rural residential zone with a minimum lot size of five acres to a rural residential zone with a minimum size of 2.5-acre lots.

Property owner Cale Wiehe said he planned to continue to use the land to raise cattle. But he said the rezoning would allow his children to sell off a piece of the property to pay the taxes when they inherit the land.

"It is an insurance policy for my family," he said.

Commissioners also heard from a couple of audience members who expressed opposition to the proposed rezoning. They expressed concern about a lack of infrastructure to support development of the property.

Stieben said he drew a distinction between the two zoning requests because he argued Wiehe did not have a plan for his property.

He said the second rezoning request complied with the current land use plan, but that plan may be changed by the County Commission in the future.

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said there is nothing to stop development on the property once the zoning is changed.

She said Wiehe's property is located in a rural area.

"That portion of our county really is rural," she said.

Commissioner Jeff Culbertson argued there are owners of five-acre lots in the county who only mow the grass on one or two acres of their properties.

"If you make them buy five and they waste the back three, that doesn't make sense to me," he said.

The vote on a motion to approve a resolution for rezoning the land was 3-2 with Kaaz and Stieben voting against it.

"It fails three to two," Commission Chairman Mike Smith said.

After the vote, Kaaz said she does not believe the proposed rezoning would fit with the rural character of the neighborhood. Kaaz said she would welcome reconsideration of the rezoning request if there is a plan for future use of the property.

Smith said the property owners can make another rezoning request in a year.

Before coming to county commissioners Wednesday for consideration, both requests were reviewed by the Leavenworth County Planning Commission. Members of the Planning Commission recommended approval of both requests.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Approved the purchase of a Mack tandem axle semi from Nextran Truck Center, Kansas City, Missouri, in the amount of $109,284. The truck will be used by the Public Works Department. Bill Noll, infrastructure and construction services director, said it is unclear whether a 2022 model will be available. He said county officials may have to wait 18 months until a 2023 model is available.

• Voted to purchase a 2022 Load King bottom dump trailer from Hawk Equipment, Kansas City, Missouri, in the amount of $38,936. The trailer will be used by the Public Works Department.