Request for determination on tent camper use, 2011

3/7/2011

Keith Dabney, Director
Douglas County Zoning and Codes

Dear Mr. Dabney,

After my recent discussions with Craig Weinaug and Linda Finger, I am requesting a written determination by March 11, 2011, regarding the compliance of proposed agricultural activities on my farm, as detailed below.

I am requesting this determination in advance of carrying out the activity because:
• I have been cited for code violation or refused permission twice in the past;
• It has always been, and will always be, my practice to operate within the scope of applicable regulations, to the extent I can reasonably determine and understand them; and
• The time, cost and effort to implement the activity is significant from my perspective, and I can’t invest that without assurance of a successful outcome.

This is not about “camping”. Let us leave that misunderstood, undefined word out of the conversation. This is about bona fide agricultural activities that are protected by K.S.A. 2-3201 and 12-758(b) and permitted by right at Douglas County Zoning Regulation 6-2.16, involving the use of vehicles meeting the county definition of “mobile home”.

I am requesting written confirmation that I am permitted by right under 6-2.16 to utilize one or more legally registered, operable vehicles meeting the definition (12-303-1.60) of “mobile home” as an accessory use (“clearly incidental to, or customarily associated with,…the principle use of the premises”) to my farm for occupancy by persons employed at the farm carrying out legitimate agricultural activities. It/they will be at least 150’ from any existing dwelling, and provided with sanitation and water facilities that meet Health Dept. standards (see attached approval from Richard Zeisnes).

For your convenience, I have attached a proposed checklist to aid the county in making this and similar determinations as to whether any given situation complies with the permitted-by-right use described in 6-2.16. I have highlighted the applicable provisions for my own situation. By using this or a similar checklist, it should be easy to determine which situations are in compliance, so that any non-compliant situations around the county can be cited for zoning violations if needed, without unnecessarily prohibiting farmers from exercising their permitted rights. To preserve privacy and prevent undue paperwork, a farmer only needs to actually provide the documentation listed if an enforcement action if brought to court; otherwise, merely affirming the facts should suffice to demonstrate a compliant situation.

Sheep shearing is on March 19, and lambing season will begin around April 1. Particular attention to the sheep is essential around shearing day because of stress, pregnancy and weather-related issues. I, and my assistants, need to be in close proximity to the sheep in order to best monitor them, as much of the night and day as feasible. We will also be actively engaged in a wide variety of other agricultural activities/uses permitted by right under 6-2.1 through operating a farm, market garden, temporary farm stand, etc. Weather permitting, I plan to transport a small portable mobile home (a Starcraft brand trailer) to the farm on or about March 16 in order to have time to get it fully set up before our season begins.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request.

Sincerely,
Natalya Lowther
Pinwheel Farm
P.O. Box 1561
Lawrence, KS 66044
785-979-6786

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