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Commissioners defend cabin proposal

Staff writer

Marion County Commission chairman Roger Fleming said Tuesday the reaction from residents at the County Lake to the proposal of building cabins on lake property has been puzzling.

Interested entrepreneurs have inquired with the county about building cabins at the lake since 2009. Chris, Heather, Tamra, and Molly Holub proposed a plan for cabins near the heated dock Dec. 8, 2010. Before those plans reached the zoning stage in 2011, the reaction from the community, even residents who live at the lake, was largely positive.

At the commission meeting Tuesday, Peabody resident Leroy Wetta led a small group of lake residents who are opposed to cabins at the lake. He said, in a letter to the commission, that the county would be wasting the land if it elected to lease cabins for a “modest annual rent.” He wrote that the land is worth $240,000 to $400,000.

Wetta also said that Council Grove officials entered into a 15-year lease agreement at their lake, which allowed renters to resell the land for a profit. The developers paid $500 to $600 to the city in rent but sold the land for $60,000 to $100,000.

While the Holubs are planning to run a business — renting their cabins — Wetta would prefer a more profitable business move into that location.

Fleming responded that the county expected to earn $73,000 annually from the cabins per the Holubs’ proposal.

“I see income from taxes,” Fleming said. “Three to four small cabins can be a substantial amount of income.”

Fleming said the main point of contention among lake residents to the cabin plan is that they believe it opens the doors for businesses to flood the lake area and tarnish the environment they sought when they invested in property at the lake. Fleming disputed the idea, saying cabins are a special case. He said the land inside of lakeshore could probably not be zoned for anything else.

“We are just trying to do what’s best for the county,” Fleming said.

Even though the County Lake cabins resolution was on the agenda after the discussion led by Wetta, commissioners tabled a decision and instead asked the Holubs to perform a land survey and submit those results to the county.

With his children as potential cabin operators, commissioner Dan Holub excused himself from a decision-making position on the topic. However, he did defend himself and his children against the lake-resident detractors.

“I don’t have a dime invested,” Holub said.

“Have you tried to get a loan for a quarter of a million dollars?” Holub asked Wetta. “You have to have a business plan.”

Jail

The commission moved ahead with plans for a new Marion County Jail.

They briefly discussed allowing construction contractors to perform demolition of the remaining two buildings on the proposed jail site in Marion. Commissioner Randy Dallke said Marty Dallke, John Unruh, and Middle Creek Mining were interested in performing demolition duties.

“The road and bridge guys would rather be on the roads than doing this kind of work,” Randy Dallke said.

With a July 15 deadline for demolition, the commissioners agreed that the county road and bridge workers have the equipment and time to complete the final two demolitions — the two-story house on South Fourth Street and the former lumberyard building. Using current county employees will save the county time in finding contractors and money because they are already paying road and bridge workers.

“I’m all about saving money if Jim (Herzet, road and bridge superintendent) has the time,” Holub said.

The commission also reviewed a proposal from Treanor Architects for the new jail. They said the architects services will cost $250,000 plus 110 percent of expenses. Unsure of why the architects would add 10 percent to expenses, the commission tabled a decision on the proposal until receiving clarification from the architectural company.

Multiple death investigations costly

County Attorney Susan Robson advised the commission that expenses incurred by the attorney’s office would be much higher than normal because of ongoing investigations of seven deaths that have occurred this year.

In May alone, there have been two boating accident deaths at Marion Reservoir, a murder investigation at the reservoir, a body found by law enforcement May 2, and another unattended death reported May 8.

Deaths require the attorney’s office to pay for the cost of transporting bodies to the Sedgwick County Forensics Science Center and pay for autopsies and subsequent scientific tests.

Robson said she usually underestimates the expenses of the attorney’s office because there may be no deaths investigated in an entire year.

In other business:

  • A fuel bid from Cooperative Grain and Supply for the road and bridge department was approved. The total cost of fuel was $21,319.
  • A chemical bid for Milestone herbicide by Markley Service was approved for the noxious weed department. The total cost of the herbicide was $4,291.
  • The hiring of five part-time employees was approved.
  • Laura Robinson will work eight hours a week in June and July to help Robson with depositions.
  • County Appraiser Cindy Magill hired Sarah Olsen to assist office staff with neighborhood revitalization and hearing paperwork.
  • Matt Thierolf and Nathan Bishop were hired as summer help with road and bridge department. They will be paid $10 an hour to work on the blacktop patching crew.
  • Shawn Voth was hired as a secretary for Rollin Schmidt for $10 an hour.
  • Alicia Stone, a 911 systems operator, received a pay raise from $11 to $12.72 an hour.
  • Repairs for a tablet, a portable measuring computer, were approved for the county appraiser. Fixing the cracked screen on the tablet will cost $593.
  • Road crossing permits were approved for Mitchel Unruh in Tampa for a waterline and for Wild Creek Ranch, which is boring under U.S. 50 and a county right of way.
  • Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene asked the commission for a computer kiosk to help Women, Infant, and Children clients as part of the WIC program which assists pregnant and breast-feeding women and children ages 5 and younger under strict dietary restraints. It would also provide access to a computer program which would help WIC clients understand their diet. The commission tabled a decision on a computer for another meeting.
  • Commissioners discussed golf carts being operated at the County Lake. They agreed to table any decision on allowing golf carts at the lake to try to find some type of alternative transport for residents. However, Fleming said it is illegal to drive golf carts on a county road, which includes Lakeshore Drive.
  • Commissioners discussed storing a generator, communication trailer, tower trailer, and cell tower in a commercial storage unit on North Roosevelt Street in Marion. It would cost the county $232 per month to rent 1,000 square feet. Commissioners decided to discuss the issue again at a future meeting.

The next commission meeting will be Monday. The commission will also have a work session Tuesday about the jail and a work session July 19 to discuss next year’s budget.

Last modified June 2, 2011

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