No "pumpkin cannons," late-night entertainment or loud music ought to be allowed at a commercial pumpkin patch being proposed in southeast Douglas County, according to a memo released today by the Douglas County zoning and planning staff.
Instead, officials are recommending that only daytime pumpkin picking, bird watching and fishing be allowed at the proposed 40-acre site west of Baldwin City. And they recommend that the size of the parking lot be scaled back dramatically to limit the size of the crowds attending events there.
Those are just some of the conditions that county officials are recommending be attached to a permit for the proposed agritourism business. County commissioners will consider those conditions when they meet at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday at the county courthouse.
Kirk and Julie Berggren of Overland Park have asked the county for an agritourism permit to operate their KC Pumpkin Patch on a 40-acre farm on Kansas Highway 33.
They currently operate a pumpkin patch in southwest Johnson County, but have said they need to move due to the impending development of the intermodal transportation facility near Gardner.
In their application, the Berggrens indicated that the Douglas County site would only be used for picking pumpkins, bird watching and fishing in a small pond.
But neighbors of the proposed Douglas County site objected to the plan after learning about the size and scope of the Berggrens' Johnson County operation, which includes self-pick pumpkins along with carnival games, music and entertainment, including pumpkin and gourd “cannons," which fire the vegetables out of gun-like barrels made of PVC pipe.
They also noted that the site plan the Berggrens submitted indicated a parking lot that could accommodate more than 800 automobiles, plus up to 16 buses.
After a lengthy and sometimes acrimonious public hearing Sept. 11, commissioners directed zoning staff to draft a permit that would include conditions to address the neighbors' concerns.
The zoning staff released a draft of their recommendations today and posted it on the county's website.
The staff recommends, among other things, that the size of the parking lot be scaled back to no more than a 100-vehicle facility, that the entire site be screened off from neighboring property with an opaque fence, and that the business be limited just to pumpkin picking, bird watching and fishing between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The recommendations also include a requirement that no permit be issued until the Kansas Department of Transportation conducts a traffic impact analysis of the impact the business would have on that section of K-33, south of U.S. Highway 56. That analysis also would have to be approved by the county engineer.