Wednesday, November 7, 2007

ECEAC Addresses Ellis County Commissioners Regarding Zoning Irregularities

The HDN newspaper article reprinted below describes ECEAC's continuing commitment in advocating for and assisting local citizens in preserving all aspects of the natural rural environment of Ellis County:

Proposed tower still causing concerns

A proposed cell phone tower to be located near Victoria city limits again was discussed at Monday's Ellis County Commission meeting, as several residents addressed commissioners between scheduled agenda items.

Several of the speakers are representatives of the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition, a group formed to "preserve all aspects of the natural rural environment," according to its Web site,

Jacinta Faber was one of the coalition members to address the board, voicing concern about the application process and Ellis County zoning regulations.

"After reading the zoning regs, my belief is the purpose (of zoning) is to live together harmoniously," Faber said. "The basic point is that when a structure or use has a visual, auditory or olfactory impact on others, their welfare and wishes deserve consideration."

Article 32-102 of the Ellis County zoning regulations states written notice of proposed rezoning shall be mailed at least 20 days before the public hearing to all landowners within 1,000 feet of the unincorporated area proposed to be altered. It also states the notice shall extend 200 feet where the notification area extends within the corporate limits of a city.

"Is Victoria being treated as unincorporated area? Does the 1,000-foot limit apply?" Faber asked. "The big issue is what is the area being proposed for this conditional-use permit?"

Article 27-102 also requires the zoning commission to do a "careful study" of the effect of such structures, she said.

"Can we see the study that they've done?" Faber said. "A study is a thing. It is a product. It should be documented."

John Schmeidler, co-chairman of the ECEAC, questioned the project area, which is a 100 foot square along the west side of Paul Schippers' property, he said. Such a small project area eliminates the possibility of a formal protest petition, which owners of 20 percent of the land within 1,000 feet of the affected area must endorse.

The area also does not include the tower's guide wires, Schmeidler said, which will extend about 270 feet from the tower's center.

"These are fundamental errors that we have to do something about," he said. "There are usually support structures ... a physical support structure, and that should be included in the permitted area. In this case, it is not."

The application for a conditional-use permit was filed by Paul Schippers, and the Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-2 on Oct. 24 to recommend approval of the application, which began the two-week protest period.

The tower, which would be constructed on behalf of Overland Park-based RCC Atlantic, would be more than 300 feet tall.

Rose Ann Dreiling, who lives near the affected area in Victoria, also approached the commissioners with concerns.

"Why do we want to depreciate other land that is close to Victoria that could be potential growth for our city?" Dreiling said.

"People aren't going to want to build next to a cell tower that's 340 feet."

Dreiling also expressed concern at the required setback distance. According to article 27-104 of the Ellis County zoning regulations, the structure must be located at a minimum distance of half the height of the tower from all property lines.

Commissioner Perry Henman agreed some of these issues might require further consideration when the application comes before the commissioners, and agreed the entire tract of property should be rezoned, rather than a small portion of it.

"If there's a certain spot, then we need the legal description of that spot. And it should include all the pieces of that structure," he said. "And we can look at things like public safety, is that too close to the highway and we can make them move it a little further away from the highway. It might still be the same piece of ground.

"But we can do things like that, and we can send that back to the planning board and tell them, 'Here's our concerns,' and they can think about it again and make their recommendation." (Hays Daily News)

Citizens wishing to contact the Ellis County Environmental Awareness Coalition about their rights or concerns regarding the cell phone tower in Victoria, the industrial wind complex proposed just south and west of Hays, or any other related environmental impact or rural zoning issue, may write to us at P.O. Box 464, Hays, KS 67601, or directly contact these individuals:
  • Tim Davis, Co-Chair of ECEAC, todavis{at}, 785-623-3590
  • John Schmeidler, ECEAC Co-Chair, jschmeidler{at}, 785-259-4314
  • Jacinta Faber, Media Liaison, 785-628-8817
Additionally, any Ellis Co. citizens concerned about this tower proposed in Victoria, Kansas, should make their opinions known by attending Ellis County Commission meetings (Commission Room at the Courthouse, 1204 Fort Street, Hays, Kansas), held every Monday, and the Ellis County Planning & Zoning Meetings, held every month. Concerned citizens should also write letters to their county commissioners directly by mailing to 1204 Fort Street, Hays, Kansas. The three current commissioners for Ellis County are:
  • Perry S Henman, Ellis Co. Commissioner, 1st District (City of Ellis, western Hays & western Ellis Co.)
  • Dennis J Pfannenstiel, Ellis Co. Commissioner, 2nd District (central Hays & central Ellis Co.)
  • Vernon L Berens, Chairman, Ellis Co. Commissioner, 3rd District (Victoria, eastern Hays, & eastern Ellis Co.): 785-735-9364, 785-735-2883

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