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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Commissioners: Permit needs more restrictions

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  • Commissioners weren’t opposed to granting a permit to operate a retreat in rural Harvey County — they simply thought the permit needed to be more restrictive to protect the land from unauthorized use in the future.At a previous meeting, Harvey County Commissioners decided to table a request for a conditional use permit to operate a retreat in an agricultural zone, citing a need for more information. 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.“I don’t want it to be big,” Craig Miller said during Monday’s commission meeting. “I don’t want to have a lot of people on this property. ... I want this to be someplace people enjoy coming that is quiet and secluded.”The plans for the 40+ acre-property include several cabins, a multipurpose building, animal housing, picnic pavilions and bathhouse/restroom facilities. The family may 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 cabins will include bathrooms and kitchenettes, Miller said. A multipurpose building could be used for small gatherings, such as wedding receptions, and Miller also may set up a hobby farm with a few animals, such as several hogs, cattle and chickens.The county’s planning and zoning director, Gina 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.Miller said his family does not intend to allow people to come in and hunt on the property.“We’d rather it be quiet,” he said.Commission chair Marge Roberson thought it was a good idea to be very clear and specific in the conditional use permit, so confusion doesn’t arise in the future, if the property were to ever change hands.“What I’m thinking about is years down the line,” Roberson said.Some of the restrictions commissioners suggested including were prohibiting the cabins from being used as permanent residences and limiting the number of cabins that could be placed on the property.“We can put any reasonable conditions we wish to put on there,” Bell said.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. 

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