Newton Kansan

Harvey County Commissioners talked about zoning regulations at their Monday meeting, and whether a long-held rule dealing with building structures on rural land should be kept intact.

The commission, along with Gina Bell, planning and zoning director, discussed the "40-acre rule," which states that a home cannot be built on rural land with less than 40 acres unless certain criteria is met. The regulation has been on the books for more than 30 years.

While giving a report on her department to the commission, Bell mentioned a case in which the planning and zoning board of appeals granted a variance to a lot owner wanting to build a house on his property.

The previous owner had asked the commission if he could split hs 77-acre property into two lots. The request was turned down, but the owner split the lot anyway. Since then, new owners have bought one of the lots, which is 27-acres. The board of appeals granted the owners a variance to build on the property.

"If we were to make them abide by rules, it would've taken farmland out of production," Bell said.

Commissioner Randy Hague expressed concern about making exceptions to the 40-acre rule.

"Is this fair to Joe Blow who was turned down last year?" Hague said. "I think we need to change the rule or hold to the rule."

Commission Chair Chip Westfall suggested that the board have a public meeting to discuss the rule.

"Things have changed in 30 years and I'm not saying we need to change it, but let's look at it," he said.

In other business, the commission:

Voted 3-0 to accept a contract between the Harvey County Sheriff's office and Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc., an Illinois corporation. Under the contract, ACH will provide health services to inmates of the county detention center.