By Sean Wardwell
To plat, or not to plat. That is the question facing McPherson County Commissioners after tabling a request from E. Tom Pyle Jr., who is seeking to establish a trailer park on land he owns northwest of Interstate 135 and Kansas Ave.
Pyle has twice been denied the request by the county planning board, in a odyssey that began with his original request on Oct. 18. At that meeting of the planning board, the board voted to disapprove the plan without listing specific reasons. After tabling the issue initially during its Nov. 2 meeting, county commissioners voted on Nov. 9 to send the issue back to the planing board for further study and clarification on why the board voted to deny the request.
Then, on Nov. 15, the board voted to again deny the request, providing several reasons, including Pyle’s adamant refusal to plat the property, issues with the property being in the city’s floodplain, the fact that a trailer park does not fit into existing land use plans, issues with access to the site and requiring that any development be required to hook into city utilities. Pyle’s original plan had included a private sewer system.
Now, county commissioners have again tabled the issue for two weeks, to allow for further study on the nature of Pyle’s request, which is labeled as a special use due to the A1 Agricultural zoning of the land in question. Under county planning regulations, a trailer park is a permitted special use.
However, the nature of the use is in question, as Pyle is seeking not only for the property not to be platted, but has openly admitted that he may abandon the trailer park usage after five years for further development of the area. Normally, when a permit is granted for work of this nature, the county requires platting - which is important because it designates roads, rights of way, creation and vacations of easements, ensuring compliance of zoning regulations, ensuring compliance with land use plans and ensuring access to public utilities.
Pyle has alluded to several conversations with the city of McPherson on the property, which could annex the land in question and is bordered on three sides by the city, in the future. Pyle told the commission that he had an informal deal with the city not to annex the land for five years, as annexation would cause taxes on the land to rise.
However, McPherson Planning Administrator Tom Stinemetze says the city has no deal with Pyle on annexation.
“We haven’t told him yes or no on anything,” Stinemetze said, adding that the only question for the city at this point is whether or not to allow Pyle to connect to city utilities without being in the city limits.
For county commissioners, the main issue is shaping up to be fairness in the permitting process.
“If we open the door on this, we’re opening the door for everyone else,” said Commissioner Duane Patrick. “I want to stick to the rules in our comprehensive plan. We need to keep the rules the same.”
Commissioner Harris Terry agreed with Patrick’s viewpoint. Only Commissioner Ron Loomis seemed in favor of the development, but only if Pyle agrees to platting.
Pyle, who took the unprecedented step of drafting his own resolution of approval for commissioners to consider, asked commissioners to take into account his family’s history in McPherson County.
“I would draw your attention to the many projects my family has done here,” Pyle said. “I humbly ask approval.”
Note: Commissioners will not have a meeting on Nov. 30.
Pyle continues push for trailer park
By Sean Wardwell