County seeks to inform public on zoning process

11/30/2013

By SCOTT AUST

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

The Finney County Commission is asking Spanish-speaking residents, or anyone who wants to learn more, to attend Monday night's county commission meeting to understand and ask questions about zoning and code enforcement.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. Monday at the county administrative center, 310 N. Ninth St.

Representatives of community planning and development will be on hand to go over zoning and code enforcement issues and procedures.

Randy Partington, county administrator, said his understanding is some commissioners feel the Hispanic community may not be as engaged or understand some of the county's zoning and code enforcement regulations until there's a problem.

"I think it's broad and generic. It's more about the process of getting permits, what you can and can't do in certain areas," he said. "It's really about answering questions and concerns."

Commissioner Roman Halbur said the idea is to help people better understand the county's codes and the process involved in acquiring permits.

"We're going to have the inspection department there, and we'll try to better inform people about what is involved in zoning, what's allowed and what isn't. I'd like them to know ahead of time before they go do something and then get ticketed by the inspection department," Halbur said.

Halbur said nothing specific prompted the effort. It's more about the commission trying to improve on keeping people informed about things.

"We've had this all the time where people have failed to get permits and failed to understand what's allowed under zoning. We've had this with truck parking, with livestock, and I just felt we owed it to people to give them a chance to come ask questions and get them informed," he said.

Partington said there will be bi-lingual staff members on hand to help with communication needs.

Other items on the agenda include:

* Discussion of the state's concealed carry law with 25th Judicial District Chief Judge Wendel Wurst.

A change in state law that went into effect July 1 allowed people with concealed carry permits to enter public buildings with concealed firearms unless local governments asked for six-month or four-year exemptions to establish building security plans that would allow those buildings to continue to prohibit firearms. For Finney County buildings, only the courthouse requested a six-month exemption which expires in January. Wurst will talk about options past that deadline.

* A request to allow a community garden on county-owned land near the Finney County Extension office, 501 S. Ninth St.

* A discussion of Area Mental Health with Ric Dalke, executive director.

* Consideration of the county's 2014 legislative platform.

Commissioners have been invited to attend the annual commissioner chili lunch at noon on Monday sponsored by the Finney County Historical Museum.

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