A full room was present for public comment at the Lyon County Commission meeting Thursday morning at the regular action session.
Phil Mott of Admire discussed his concern regarding misinformation about PlanELC. At last week’s meeting, two other county residents raised concern and cited Mott for a portion of their information.
“What I distributed was a list of my public comment and public concern,” he said. “Along with that, I had … the web address to view the pre-final draft.”
While concerned with several aspects of the draft, Mott expressed his main point of interest being that others should “please take the time to read the draft, and let your commissioners know how you feel about these. This is a big deal and will impact you and your family for a very long time,” he said.
“Your name was mentioned quite a bit last week during the public comment,” Commissioner Scott Briggs said. “Some of the information they were quoting was the farthest from the truth of what the zoning regulations mean.”
Lyon County Planning, Zoning and Floodplain Management Director Sam Seeley reached out to Mott about the board being more involved in the process.
“On this comprehensive plan … we’re in a society of ‘I heard,’” Briggs said. “Some of the comments about ‘I heard people in Lyon County are going to have to hook on to the sewer system in Emporia, Kansas, at their expense’ … And then once it hits Facebook, it’s just out there, and people take that as facts. It’s the worst thing that could happen.”
Plan ELC was the Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2017, and what is being considered now is ELC Zoning Regulations, Sam Seeley wrote in an email to The Gazette.
“The public meetings have been going on for three years, that I know of,” Briggs said. “Each small community had a meeting at their town. Nobody showed up. And, again, you said that’s not that they weren’t reached out to, but that there wasn’t a lot of participation.”
Seeley wrote HOA-type regulations will not be enforced, and zoning has nothing to do with tax rates. For more information on property taxes, contact the County Appraiser.
Briggs also assured that although Urban Collaborative is an Oregon-based consulting company, “they are taking the concerns and the wishes of the people of Lyon County to do this comprehensive plan.”
“The main person who owns it and that is helping write it is from Kansas originally, so we believe that he has some insight into how we do things in Kansas, but also brings a fresh perspective to move us forward,” Seeley said. “Several Lyon County residents selected this company from several others.”
Briggs asked Lyon County residents to use common sense when considering the draft. He said the rumors about banning barbed wire, requiring permits for corner posts and porch regulations for rural properties were not true. Some of those specific issues in question are questions for the City of Emporia. Questions for the city can be directed to City of Emporia Planning and Zoning Director Joe Foster at 620-343-4268 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I would encourage people to, instead of read on Facebook or the ‘I heard’ syndrome, is to find out what the facts are. Contact Sam Seeley zoning, attend the meetings, find out what we’re trying to do, because I think you’ll find out that in the rural area of Lyon County, that the zoning regulations aren’t going to change that much,” Briggs said.
One of the major goals of the county is to preserve agriculture.
“Being a commissioner means you’re trying to make this a better place to live,” Commissioner Dan Slater said. “Sometimes, the three of us probably don’t know as much about it as we wish we did, but it’s a matter of learning and trying to the best job you can and some common sense would definitely be helpful. As far as listening, it’s kind of nice that we actually had public comment and there is some public here to comment, because usually we don’t have anybody. We need to know things when people are happy with what we’re doing or they’re not happy with what we’re doing.”
To access information about the Pre-Final (First Draft) Zoning Regulations Draft, visit lyoncounty.org/index/government/departments/zoning. If unable to access the link, paper copies and flash drives with the information may be requested by contacting Seeley at 620-341-3471 or email@example.com.
One concern voiced last week was the file being too large to download. Seeley said they “will break it up into multiple files for easier downloads.”
Seeley also encourages people to call or email him to set up a meeting to discuss the draft.
The public may also attend zoning meetings Sept. 11, Oct. 16, Nov. 13 and Dec. 11 at Lyon County Annex, 402 Commercial St. Seeley said to keep an eye out for his Talk of Emporia, Newsmaker segments, notifications in The Gazette and website and Facebook posts. Seeley said there will be more detailed discussion workshops with dates and times to be determined.
While the public comment for the official first draft is closed, comments are always accepted via email, mail, phone, Facebook, in person or however else people see fit.
In other business:
Gary Post presented the commission with hand-made, upcycled pallets in the shape of Kansas with the American flag painted on it. He presented one to 911 dispatch and one to the sheriff’s department. He previously presented ones to the police and fire departments last year.