The Finney County Commission on Monday approved a request to rezone a stretch of lots on Farmland Road as a rural residential district, giving property owners more flexibility in what kind of livestock they can keep on their land.

Kaleb Kentner, Neighborhood and Development services director, told commissioners that residents of properties on Farmland Road between Mary Street and Kansas Highway 156 had requested the zoning change.

Property owners on the road have faced many code violations for keeping animals — oftentimes horses — and the City of Garden City had worked with them to find solutions, according to Kentner’s proposal.

Before the approval, 18 lots spanning more than 42 acres on the stretch had been zoned as suburban estates, which allows property owners to keep horses and chickens on their land, or low density residential, which don’t allow for any animals.

With the change, the lots will be rezoned as rural residential, which allows for a certain amount of equine, bovine, swine, sheep or goats, poultry, rabbits and other small animals based on the size of the lot’s fenced acreage.

Kentner provided the county commission with the minutes from the Holcomb, Garden City and Finney County Area Planning Commission meeting on June 21, at which all present members voted to recommend the county’s approval of the rural residential rezoning.

Before the meeting, a petition had been circulated among property owners to gauge support for the decision to rezone to rural residential. Owners of 13 of the 18 affected lots signed in favor of the change. Kentner said he had not heard any concern or opposition from the owners of the other five lots.

Planning commission members heard from Farmland Road property owners, including Eva May Fross, Jerry Bitter and Tammy Hutcheson, according to the board's minutes. Fross, accompanied by her friend, Elaine Ramsey, was ultimately open to either suburban estates or rural residential zoning, as long as she would be able to keep her two horses. Bitter and Ramsey were concerned about future Farmland property owners keeping pigs and spreading an odor to neighbors. Bitter told the planning commission that the street’s largest property could have eight pigs.

Planning Commissioner Clayton Holub said the rural residential zoning code demands that property owners “prevent noxious odors, sounds and waste from becoming a nuisance to adjacent properties,” making future issues easier to enforce.

Hutcheson, whose property is already zoned as rural residential, supported the zoning change for the sake of consistency and flexibility for her neighbors.

According to the minutes, the planning commission favored the rezoning so there would be consistent expectations of what livestock Farmland Road property owners could keep on their land. Members also wanted to offer more space and less legal restrictions for local 4-H projects.

“It’s getting so hard to find a property that you can have 4-H animals and such. And it’s such a tremendous program that just keeps getting stepped on because of regulation of where you can put animals and such. We’re not doing our kids any justice by (stepping) on it,” Planning Commissioner Jeana Anliker said at the planning meeting, according to the minutes from the meeting.

Commissioners unanimously approved the request after some discussion clarifying Kentner’s proposal and that the lots operated on septic systems and personal wells.

All county commissioners were present.

In other business:

• County Administrator Randy Partington told the commission that the League of Kansas Municipalities had increased its member rate for 2019. Finney County has not yet signed on as a 2019 member, but Partington recommended it, calling it a valuable program. Commissioner Lon Pishny said he was currently not in favor of rejoining the league next year since similar benefits could be found in other programs.

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.