Archive for Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fee breaks to require visiting BOCC

December 8, 2010

Leavenworth County farmers planning to build residences will now likely have to come before the county commissioners, tax documents in hand, if they want to get a break on fees that can cost several thousand dollars.

The County Commission on Monday agreed for the commissioners to handle all requests for agricultural fee waivers on residential buildings on a case-by-case basis, after the property owner provides tax documents proving that he or she primarily works on the farm.

Fee waiver requests for other, non-residential buildings on agricultural property — such as barns or sheds — will go to the county planning and zoning department.

The commissioners also agreed to strike from the county zoning regulations any minimum acreage requirement for a property to be classified as agricultural. The regulations proposed by planning and zoning director Jeff Joseph had required properties to be at least 40 acres in size to qualify for a fee exemption, because some other Kansas counties had included such a provision in similar regulations.

Commissioner Clyde Graeber said he did not understand the significance of “the magic 40 acres.”

“If a guy has 10 acres, and he’s producing his income from agriculture, he should be able to get the exemption,” Graeber said.

The commissioners did not vote to approve the regulations, but instead asked Joseph to bring them before the county Planning Commission for review before returning them to the county commissioners for approval.

The commission began considering the issue of agricultural fee exemptions last week after Joseph said he’d had an increase in waiver requests for residential buildings, and he wanted to make sure the system wouldn’t be abused by people who don’t use a farm as their primary source of income, or even farm at all.

Graeber asked County Counselor David Van Parys on Monday if the county could require a certain percentage of someone’s income to be derived from agricultural activities, and leave it at that. But Van Parys said state statutes were too vague in describing properties with agricultural use for the county to require any specific benchmark for the fee waivers. He said court rulings suggested a more “common-sense approach” on a case-by-case basis.

“We could have a 500-page definition and try to include everything, but there would still be that one example that pops up and isn’t included,” Van Parys said.

Also on Monday, the commission:

Approved, 3-0, a request from the city of Leavenworth to form a tax increment financing (TIF) district.

Approved, 3-0, a disclaimer for all surveys filed with the county stating that they may not meet planning and zoning regulations and that the tract of land may not necessarily be buildable.

Approved, 3-0, an exception to the county hiring freeze for the juvenile services department to hire three detention officers.

On Thursday, the commission:

Approved, 3-0, a request for proposals for a new vehicle for the emergency management department.

Accepted, 2-1, a request from the city of Basehor to waive the county’s portion of property taxes under a Neighborhood Revitalization Plan for the Centerpoint Preserve subdivision. Graeber opposed the motion, saying he didn’t think it would be fair to homeowners already in the area who would not be exempt from property taxes.

Authorized, 3-0, the public works department to spend up to $10,000 on emergency repairs at the County Shop.

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