Renovations at Walton's Recreational Park,6025 E. First St., Newton, are in preparation for something big — the launch of several music festivals to be hosted there this coming summer.
Hosting music festivals is no small feat, though, and doing so at that location requires the approval of a conditional use permit by the Harvey County Commission. This particular permit came before the commission — with the backing of Planning and Zoning Director Gina Bell and the planning and zoning board — for consideration on Monday. However, a social media post announcing the cancellation of at least the first festival, Roaring Thunder Rock Fest, which applicant Roy Walton Workman confirmed, has thrown a wrench into the proceedings.
"At this point, I don't think that I can recommend that it needs to be approved," Bell said.
The board and Bell were very excited about the prospect of this conditional permit, Bell said, but communication with the landowners — Brenda Walton and Workman — has been limited since the apparent cancellation of the first planned festival. It was noted that the landowners had not withdrawn the permit application.
Protests on the permit were received from adjoining landowners, who cited noise, trash and safety concerns with the events. The board had numerous questions and wanted more information from the landowners about an insurance policy, a copy of festival rules and before the event, but it approved the permit for all three planned festivals.
"Historically, this place has had two big events," said commission chair Chip Westfall.
"I do think overall this is a good idea for anywhere we can find it in Harvey County," Bell said. "I think we would probably be well off to create a special event policy so that we could make sure everybody's safe and move forward on that."
Organization would be key in such an event, which is why the county also wanted to hear from the landowners about the conditional use permit — agreed to be the next step before moving forward with approval. Understanding there was a recent death in the family for the landowners, the commission tabled discussion of the permit until its next meeting on April 1, noting that no parties spoke in favor or against the permit on Monday.
In other business, the county commission:
Discussed a potential joint meeting with the Newton City Commission meeting to discuss airport capital improvements, with commissioners noting the proposed date of April 9 would not work.
Considered a potential temporary amendment to the summer hours for the Solid Waste Department, given the department is currently short-staffed. Normally, those hours go into effect on April 1, with the department staying open from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Saturdays, an additional three hours. Staff noted there is normally not a high volume of traffic in the additional hours, but commissioners requested to see the data before making a final decision.
Heard about plans to hire a part-time employee at the airport to mainly handle painting of the exterior hangers as a cost-saving effort, coming at the cost of $8,844 to the county. County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber noted that could be taken out of money already budgeted for airport improvement and the commission approved the position for 2019 and then to review.
Received reports on the annual activity of the Regional Economic Area Partnership of South Central Kansas and from the Kansas Association of Counties on recent legislative action, including movement on the 911 bill with the increased funding amount.
Was reminded of the storm spotter workshop coming up at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Lindley Hall, with all first responders encouraged to attend.
Learned that the hearing on Wichita's proposed ASR changes had been postponed with no makeup date announced yet, given the recent appointment of a new hearing officer — a move it was noted Groundwater Management District No. 2 favored. The commission also approved and signed a letter in support of GMD2's position on the situation.
Heard about the annual Easter Egg hunt coming up April 14 at Camp Hawk.
Received a report on land splits under the new planning and zoning regulations, which Bell noted have remained low so far, with eight as of March 22, as expected.
Approved bid requests for Noxious Weed chemicals, as well as for a Rhino mower and grader rakes for the Road and Bridge Department.
Approved a contract extension with Unruh Mowing for services at the county parks with a slight increase for 2019 to $3,250 per full cycle.