After an odyssey through the county planning board and the county commission, E. Tom Pyle, Jr. is getting ready for the next hurdle in his efforts to establish an RV park on land his family owns northwest of Interstate 135 and Highway 56.
When Pyle first began the process of seeking approval for the RV park, the county planning board denied his request without citing specific reasons for the disapproval. That caused the county commission to send his request back to the board, which then expressed concerns about it not fitting with the aesthetics of the area, or the county’s development plan. The board sent a second disapproval back to commissioners listing its reasoning. However, Pyle was able to win approval from commissioners based on several concessions, most importantly a plan to operate his own sewer system on the property.
As far as the RV park, Pyle said he has done studies on the profitability of such a business, and is confident his investment can be recovered within a few years. However, he indicated that his long-term plans for the property extend beyond keeping a park there, including possible residential and commercial development, depending on the market.
As the county only ruled on the zoning issue, and because the land in question is not only in the city’s floodplain, but is likely to be annexed by the city in the near future, Pyle’s next stop will be with the McPherson Planning Commission.
Another reason Pyle will need to work with the city is because county zoning regulations state any property must hook into existing sewer and water systems. Currently, the city is studying how that might be done. McPherson Planning Administrator Tom Stinemetze previously indicated in a county commission meeting that the city was open to the possibility.
Pyle said he plans on filing for what is known as a “Planned Unit Development” with the city.
“In a Planned Unit Development, a developer convinces the powers that be that his layouts and designs are appropriate for the community type he is developing,” Pyle said. “In other words, you don’t have to have public streets, you don’t have to have public utilities, your setbacks and densities and so on are done by design. We try to be sensitive to all those functions and needs. It gives you a lot more flexibility in creating an environment.”
Pyle, a licensed architect who has worked on many projects in McPherson, expressed some frustration with how the case was handled, and the state of the approval process in general.
“It’s a little bit interesting. I can remember, still in some communities, we walk in with a set of plans, pick up a permit, and we’re gone. In Wichita now, as many as 32 people will review every plan,” Pyle said. “Sometimes on some projects more people will review it than will actually build it. The problem with zoning and planning is it’s assigning value and taking away value by people who have never spent a dime on that land.”
Pyle said he prefers the free-enterprise system, adding that people wouldn’t do something with their own land that would hurt anyone else. He is now in the process of submitting the required paperwork with the city. However, he remains hopeful that city officials will remember the many projects he and his family have worked on in the area as he works through the process.
“We’ve done multiple, multiple projects of all kinds - McPherson College, Central Christian College, the businesses downtown,” Pyle said, adding several others. “We’ve had all kinds of projects.”
To view these projects, or to contact Pyle, visit his website at