Douglas County commissioners agreed Wednesday to wait another two weeks before voting on an agritourism permit for a commercial pumpkin patch operation in a rural southeast county neighborhood.
Commissioners had been scheduled to vote on the proposal Wednesday night. But county officials said early Wednesday that the applicants had requested that the item be deferred to give attorneys on both sides more time to negotiate conditions that would limit the size and scope of the enterprise.
Kirk and Julie Berggren of Overland Park applied for the permit earlier this year so they could move their KC Pumpkin Patch business from its current location near Gardner in southwest Johnson County. They have proposed moving it to a 40-acre site along Kansas Highway 33 in Palmyra Township, about a mile and a half north of the Franklin County line.
Under new county zoning guidelines, certain kinds of agritourism businesses that are registered with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism are now allowed on property zoned for agricultural use. But businesses hosting events that draw more than 100 people at a time must be approved by county commissioners.
The Berggrens' proposal, however, sparked outrage among nearby property owners because the site plan called for a parking lot that could hold more than 800 vehicles.
During a lengthy public hearing Sept. 11, neighbors also voiced concern that the Berggrens' current business looked more like a carnival or theme park, with loud music and activities that include "cannons" that allow people to shoot pumpkins or gourds out of gun-like barrels made of PVC pipe.
Following that hearing, commissioners directed the county's zoning and planning staff to draft a set of conditions that could be attached to the permit in order to address the neighbors concerns.
On Monday, county officials released a draft list of conditions that included scaling back the size of the parking lot to no more than 100 vehicles, and limiting the type of activities to self-picked pumpkins, bird watching and fishing.
Neither the Berggrens nor their attorney, Curtis Holland, responded to requests for comment about those conditions.
County administrator Craig Weinaug said he did not know whether the Berggrens had specific objections to the proposed conditions, only that they wanted additional time to negotiate.
County commissioners now plan to consider the proposal on Oct. 9.
In other business, commissioners:
• Approved a contract with SCALE, Inc., to conduct a study on the feasibility of starting a food hub that would serve a 16-county area around Douglas County.
• Authorized county staff to give administrative approval for temporary business operations that will be associated with the extension of the South Lawrence Trafficway.
• Approved an interlocal agreement with the Johnson County Communications Center to serve as a back-up for the Douglas County Emergency Communications Center in the event of a major disruption that makes the Douglas County center inaccessible or inoperative.
• Approved a road construction agreement with Penny's Aggregates Inc., for road improvements required by conditions of a permit for the sand excavating facility being developed northwest of Eudora on the south bank of the Kansas River.
• Adopted an amendment to the Horizon 2020 comprehensive plan that incorporates the federal T2040 Metropolitan Transportation plan into the local planning document.
• Approved a site plan for the Dupont Pioneer Addition, 1451 N. 1823 Road, that allows development of a 9,600-square-foot storage facility.
• And approved a site plan for construction of an accessory structure to the Lone Star Bretheren Church, 883 E. 800 Road.