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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Commissioners ask for more info on proposed retreat

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  • Citing a need for more information, Harvey County Commissioners decided to table a request for a conditional use permit to operate a retreat/campground in an agricultural zone. The permit had been approved by the Harvey County Regional Planning Commission, but county commissioners said they wanted to know more about the landowners’ plans for the property, which is at 6608 N. River Park Road. Craig and Julie Miller, who purchased the property in 2011, had requested the permit in order to operate a retreat for those in the ministry who may need a chance to get away and seek physical, emotional and spiritual healing. “They just felt the need, they thought that it was a good idea to provide a place for preachers and ministers and such to come and get some respite,” said the county’s planning and zoning director Gina Bell. The plans for the 40+ acre-property include several cabins, a multipurpose building, animal housing, picnic pavilions and bathhouse/restroom facilities. The family also plans to add a new residence to the property so they can turn the current residence into a larger cabin, and have places where people can possibly camp in tents. The water on the property will have to be tested to make sure it is safe to drink, and a plan for the sewer will have to be approved by the Harvey County environmental director. Bell said the neighbors surrounding the property have been contacted, and there were no objections to the proposed use, as long as there was not a commercial shooting range on the property. Commissioners did have some concerns about the project, and they said they would like to learn more details about the family’s plans for the property. Commissioners wanted to know the exact number of buildings that were included in the plan, and what type of buildings they would be. They also wondered if the cabins would have their own restroom and kitchen facilities, or if visitors would have to use a communal structure. Commission chair Marge Roberson was concerned the proposed conditional use permit might be too open-ended. “It seems to me like we’re giving them an awful lot of room,” she said. “I think we need to know some specifics on this.” Anthony Swartzendruber, assistant administrator and finance director for the county, recommend tabling the issue and then inviting the Millers to an upcoming meeting so commissioners can ask more questions about the project. 
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