The Wilson County Planning Board worked with Foster & Associates, Planning Consultants of Wichita, Kansas and the County Zoning Administrator to prepare new zoning regulations for the unincorporated area of the County.  The proposed Zoning Regulation of Wilson County, Kansas, and Official Zoning Map were approved in June 2006, and are available at the Courthouse in Fredonia.  The Board of County Commissioners has designated Kris D. Marple as County Zoning Administrator.  His office is located on the first floor of the Courthouse in Room 101 and his telephone number is (620) 378-3472.  Terry Lyons is the County Floodplain Administrator and Amy Lell is the County Sanitarian.  Their office's are located in the County Health Department at 421 North 7th Street in Fredonia and the telephone number is (620) 378-4455.

The Zoning Regulations comprise five zoning districts.  They seek to achieve several objectives:

1.       To encourage urban type development in and around cities where infrastructure and services are more available.

2.       To generally discourage non-farm development in rural areas in order to preserve agricultural land except for  (a) low-density residential use, and (b) such non-farm uses as may be expected to locate in rural areas.

3.       To provide lot size incentives which would encourage the grouping of non-farm dwellings into subdivisions.

4.       To preserve existing small unincorporated urban areas as “villages” by establishing minimal regulatory standards.

5.       To allow a limited amount of commercial and industrial zoning at selected locations upon application for rezoning.

6.       To limit the placement of older type mobile home, i.e., pre-1976 construction, in favor of “residential-design manufactured homes” and “manufactured homes” which meet the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1976 otherwise known as the HUD Code

7.       To update the Floodplain Management Regulations adopted originally in April 1989 to reflect current requirements of Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Division of Water Resources of the Kansas Department of Agriculture.  The current Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM) dated June 7, 1977 has been upgraded to the status of a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) with numerous unnumbered A zones which have not been changed. 

Certain structures and uses are exempt form the Zoning Regulations such as:

1)     Utility distribution systems except major substations;

2)     Railroad tracks and their related equipment and activity;

3)     Structures and land owned and operated by the federal government;

4)     Drilling and operating oil and gas wells;

5)     Family burial plots; and

6)     The use of land for agricultural purposes including related accessory structures thereon, which are not located in a designated floodplain.

The state statutory provisions for exempting agricultural use of land and related structure also extend to animal feedlots in the unincorporated area of the County.  A farmhouse and a modular dwelling on a foundation are also exempt, as well as single and multiple wide manufactured homes either skirted or placed on a foundation.  The definition of agriculture in the regulations recognizes that Kansas is a “right-to-farm” state under K.S.A. 2-3201, et seq. that limits nuisance suits and injunctions.   While an agricultural compliance certificate may be requested to determine the agricultural exemption status, no fee is required for the certificate nor a zoning permit for exempted agricultural structures that are not in a designated floodplain.

All lawfully existing structures and uses which are not otherwise permitted outright by the regulations will be “grandfathered-in”.  They can continue to do what they have done in the past and expand under certain circumstances.  As a voluntary procedure to reassure owners that their property will be recognized in the future as having been grandfathered-in, i.e., determined to be “legal nonconforming”, registration forms are available at the Zoning Administrator’s office for recording legal non-conformities and exemptions as a vested right.   As part of this process, recognition will be given to certain existing structures and uses as being legal, non-conforming, which were constructed or initiated without a zoning permit during a previous period wherein such permits were not issued nor enforcement in effect.  Such structures or uses may or may not have met the regulations at the time that they were initiated.  It is recommended that the owners of such structures and uses avail themselves of the opportunity to clarify their situation for vested rights protection by registration of possible non-conformities. 

The regulations do not:  (a) raise any taxes;  (b) increase any appraisals;  (c) cause land to be annexed to a city; or  (d) prevent the inheritance of property.  Any division of land, however, will have to meet the provisions of the Zoning Regulations in order to have a zoning permit approved.  Obtaining a zoning permit is required for a proposed structure or use except for the six exemptions listed previously.  The zoning permit is not a “building” permit in that it does not control how or with what materials a structure is constructed.  It does control the use of structures and land and their bulk dimensions on a zoning lot by setback dimensions from road rights of way and adjacent landowners.  

     A brief description of each zoning district classification is summarized below:  

A.         A-1 Agricultural  --  This district is established to preserve productive farm and ranch land by allowing only certain low-density dwellings and non-farm uses.  Non-farm residential uses  require at least a minimum lot size of five acres.   Other uses will need a minimum of 40,000 square feet.  Certain exceptions apply for land that was owned separately and individually from adjoining land at the time the regulations became effective.  In effect, a lot size less than five acres can be used for a residence if the size meets the standard of the County Sanitary Code.

In addition to three permitted use categories, there are 20 special uses listed for which application can be made to the Planning Board with final approval by the County Commissioners.  In addition to churches and golf courses as permitted uses, the residential non-farm uses are: Single-family and earth-sheltered dwelling, modular, residential-design manufactured homes and multiple wide manufactured homes on enclosed, perimeter permanent-type foundations.  Special uses range from airports to quarries and dog kennels to communication towers.  They are classified as “special” because they are not automatically appropriate everywhere in the district such as an application for a campground, salvage yard, sanitary landfill or exhibiting or keeping exotic animals or birds.  Since it is not possible to foresee all the potential land uses that might want to locate in a rural area, there is a miscellaneous classification that allows “Other Uses” as special uses to apply and be considered at a public hearing to determine their compatibility to the other uses in the A-1 zone.

B.          V-1 Village -- This district is established to encourage the continued existence of small 

unincorporated “villages” by placing very minimal restrictions on their development.  Single-family dwellings, modular and all types of manufactured and mobile homes on land owned by the homeowner will be permitted.  In addition, business and industrial uses comparable to the  permitted uses listed in the B-1 General Business and I-1 Industrial districts will be allowed.  The provision for “Other Uses” as special uses is also included. The major restriction important to the long-range welfare of the village is to meet the County Sanitary Code.

C.       SR-1 Single-Family Suburban Residential -- This district is established to provide for a minimum of three-acre lots for rural housing that would also meet the County Sanitary Code.  Such lots could accommodate single-family and earth-sheltered dwellings, modulars, residential-design manufactured homes, multiple-wide manufactured homes on enclosed perimeter permanent-type foundations and group homes.  They could be laid out on existing County roads    or grouped into a subdivision.  Whereas platting is not required of the district, it is encouraged and will be needed for subdivisions with interior street systems.

D.      C-1 General Commercial  -- This district is established for a selected group of retail

and service businesses.  Such uses should desirably be located on major roads, particularly at intersections and/or adjacent to cities.  It is not intended to “strip out” roadways or unduly compete with commercial urban centers in cities.  There are 16 permitted uses and five special uses including the “Other Uses” category.  All enclosed or screened from public view unless approved as part of a special or conditional use except for the sale of gasoline and the operation of automobile service stations.

E.       I-1 Industrial -- This district is established to provide for a broad list of industrial uses

to be located at selected locations.  Future locations for the I-1 zone will depend upon applications and subsequent approvals.  Because of limited public and private facilities and services in the unincorporated area, the concept is to encourage “light” industrial types which will create less environmental problems yet recognize traditional enterprises that normally locate in rural areas; such as greenhouses, agricultural and oil related businesses and livestock sales.  Related outdoor operations, storage and display will be permitted.  Eleven uses will be specifically prohibited due to their extensive environmental impact, while seven special uses including the “Other Uses” category are approved.

The Official Zoning Map delineates district boundaries for the A-1 Agricultural, V-1 Village, SR-1 Single-Family Suburban Residential and I-1 Industrial districts.  New uses will need to apply for rezoning to establish different zones, especially in the B-1 General Business and I-1 Industrial districts.

Customary home occupations are permitted on residential lots with a listing of 13 that are prohibited, such as vehicle repair and sales businesses and the sale of firearms and ammunition.  Some use limitations apply to maintain the appearance of a structure as a residence.  By application for a conditional use as an exception to the Board of Zoning Appeals, more extensive home occupations with less restriction may be approved in an agricultural district.  Zoning permits are required only for home occupations that display a sign or use an accessory structure although the basic restriction still apply.

A wide variety of uses accessory to a principle use are recognized both permanently and temporarily.  These include off-street parking, signs, detached garages, storage buildings, private wind energy conversion systems and garage or yard sales.  Detached garages, carports and storage buildings are limited in size in residential districts; however, conditional use applications can be made to the Board of Zoning Appeals for oversized structures.

Because of their relocatable ability, manufactured and mobile homes are permitted to be used in a flexible manner.  Under certain conditions, they can be used to (a) replace older homes that have been grandfathered-in; (b) provide housing for a watchman or custodian; (c) locate a home for additional assistance on a farm or ranch; (d) temporarily provide housing during a disaster; (e) provide temporary housing while constructing a site-built house; and (f) temporarily locate on the same zoning lot as a principle residence if an unusual hardship is shown.  No such homes can be used for storage purposes only.

      Applications may be made to change zoning from one district to another or request a special use.  The procedure is governed by state statutes and involves proper notification of affected parties and a fair and impartial public hearing before the Planning Board.  Notification is given in the official county newspaper at least 20 days before the hearing.  Individual notices are mailed to owners of real property within 1,000 feet of the proposed rezoning area and 200 feet inside a city if the 1,000 feet extended into the city limits.  As a quasi-judicial process to avoid being arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, the Board makes a recommendation to the County Commissioners on their findings of 17 factors.  Within 14 days after a hearing, protest petitions may be received by the County Clerk from the notification area protesting the change in zoning or proposed special use.  If 20% of the area notified protests the proposed zoning change not counting public rights of way, the effectuating resolution of the County Commissioners can not be passed except by a ¾ vote, which in Wilson County would necessitate a unanimous vote. Anyone aggrieved by a decision of the County can appeal within 30 days to District Court.

The Planning Board also serves as the Board of Zoning Appeals.  The latter hears and decides:  (1) appeals from determinations of the Zoning Administrator, (2) variances and (3) conditional uses as exceptions.  Variances are hardships to individual property owners, which may involve some numerical problem such as a building setback line, the height of a sign or the number of required parking spaces.  Conditional uses are much like special uses, but usually smaller in size and of less intensity of activity.  They must be specifically listed in the regulations to be considered by the Board.  Notification is given in the same manner as rezoning as scribed above, but no formal protest petitions are permitted.  The Board makes a final decision appealable only to District Court within 30 days.

Zoning has as its objectives the grouping of compatible land uses, protecting property values, promoting public health and safety, preserving good agricultural land, and guiding urban growth to those areas where it can best be provided with the necessary public and private services.  Zoning is like a “community insurance policy” to protect property from the intrusion of undesirable uses while promoting its best use consistent with private property rights and community concerns.