Business Conditional Use Permit next to home and farm.
(Jefferson County, KS)
Show at Arena
Visitor Question: I live in a rural/agricultural area. I own 55 acres of pasture and farm ground. My only visible neighbor now owns my parents' place which is adjacent to me on the east.
His place is divided into two parcels of ground, because I sold it to him at separate times. One is a 5.5 acre parcel with house and barns, and the other is 45 acres of pasture and timber. One is zoned Rural Residential and the other is zoned Agricultural.
Years ago (1998), my neighbor approached me and asked if I would be offended if he started up a small business in one of the old buildings on his place.
He said he wanted to repair saddles and maybe sell a few horse trailers. I told him that I didn't think that would be a problem, but I didn't want to live next to a business that would have a lot of traffic. He assured me that I had nothing to worry about.
So in the process he applied for a Conditional Use Permit, and was given one for Retail and no more than 25 trailers to sell at any one time.
As the years went on, more and more truck and trailer traffic started coming down our county road, past my house, to the business. So much so that the county paved the road because of it.
Then, about 5 or so years ago, I noticed that the owners were adding on to the building with a "huge" building, 100' x 70'. Almost 2-3 times the size. The County again approved a modification to the Conditional Use Permit.
This past June, I was approached by my neighbor again because he wanted to pen up my horses, since he was planning on putting in (at his own expense) a new property line fence between us.
As we were talking, he also told me that he was building a large arena, right next to my property, which he intended to use...."to enhance his business"!! When I asked him what he meant, he said for horse clinics and shows. I told him that I really didn't want shows and rodeos going on right next to me. He said, "oh no, nothing like that! Only for business purposes." Well that was definitely not the truth.
He is now running Horse Clinics almost every weekend (Sat. and Sun.), Barrel Races, Horse Challenge (Obstacle) Events, etc.,.....with concessions, tents, loudspeakers, Porta-Potties......you name it. At one point, even had overnight camping. And all of this within full view of my property, my patio, my living room window. There is no buffer!!
Long story, short:
I've complained, and now there is going to be a Public Hearing. I need to know the best arguments to fight this.
I have since found out that the new Arena is not on the 5 acres governed by the Conditional Use Permit, nor is his trailer storage. And the large building used for his retail business was never included in the first modification.
However, I think the County is going to "side" with this business, no matter what, because they know this individual personally, and they like the idea of the expanding business for county revenue.
Can you give me some effective arguments to use at the County Public Hearing about this, please? I've included pictures of his place, business and what one of his shows at his arena looks like. All within view of my house, and close enough that I can hear people talking.
You seem like you have a good understanding of the situation already. Unlike many people who are involved in some sort of zoning dispute, you realize now that the fact that your county likes the business and its owner makes your battle against an expansion of this outrageous horse clinic and show aspect of the business a difficult one.
You asked for the most effective arguments, and we think there are two types of arguments:
(a) You could and should make the argument that the Conditional Use Permit is becoming stretched to the point of making the County look foolish for granting it in the first place. Be quite careful not to seem to be blaming the current people in power for this, but just make the point that the original Conditional Use Permit contemplated no such situation as the one you now face. Make this a minor point, but it's worth making, as someone may agree with you.
(b) More substantively, make some classic arguments pertaining to zoning. First, there is too much traffic for the rural nature of your community, and the traffic is leading to an increased need for road maintenance.
Second, you should say that the loudspeakers and other crowd noise are taking away from your "quiet enjoyment" of your property. This is an actual term used in zoning law, and so you should use it even if it seems quaint.
Third, can you make a sanitation and/or water supply argument? If they have porta potties, presumably they are being taken away promptly, but if there is any ick factor involved, point it out.
If your drinking water comes from wells, are you experiencing any lowering of the water table due to withdrawals of water for these arena crowds? Any kind of pollution of the groundwater would be a good argument also.
Fourth, how about dust? One of us grew up across the road from a farm with horses, who could kick up quite a bit of dust when they got excited. This would not be a good argument if things went to court, but occasionally it will persuade some decision maker who really likes a clean house.
Lastly, you main need to think ahead about bargaining if it looks as if you are going to lose. What conditions could be added to the conditional use permit to make things more tolerable for you? What about limiting the number of cars or visitors, restricting the use of loudspeakers, disallowing camping, requiring privacy fencing and/or rows of trees forming a complete visual screen and suppressing the noise a little bit.
If you have your suggestions about conditions ready if it looks as if you are going to lose the main zoning point, maybe you can at least restrict the damage a bit.
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