After many months of study and public meetings, the Ottawa County, Kansas, Comprehensive Plan was adopted by the Ottawa County Planning Board and approved by the Board of County Commissioners in February 2005.   The County Commissioners have designated Truette McQueen as County Zoning Administrator.  His office is located on the first floor of the Courthouse in Suite 106 and his telephone number is (785) 392‑3037. 

      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 nonfarm development in rural areas in order to preserve agricultural land except for  (a) low density residential use, and (b) such nonfarm uses as may be expected to locate in a rural area.
  3. To provide lot size incentives which would encourage the grouping of nonfarm dwellings into platted 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 homes, 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 plan for the anticipated County's participation in the National Flood Insurance Program by the adoption of floodplain regulations and rate maps possibly in early 2006.

Certain structures and uses are exempt from the proposed 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 structures would 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 multi‑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. which 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 which are not in a designated floodplain.

      All lawfully existing structures and uses which would not otherwise be permitted outright by the regulations would be "grand­fathered‑in".  They can  continue to do what they have done in the past and expand under certain circumstances.  Zoning is not generally applied retroactively; however, provision is allowed to remove the storage of junk and wrecked or dismantled vehicles after five years which are not in an industrial district.  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 will be available at the Zoning Administrator's office for recording legal nonconformities and exemptions as a vested right.

      The adoption of such regulations would not: (a) raise any taxes; (b) increase any appraisals; (c) cause land to be annexed to a city; or (d) prevent the sale, transfer or inheritance of property.  Any division of land, however, would still have to meet the provisions of the proposed Zoning and Subdivision Regulations.  Obtaining a zoning permit would be  required for a proposed structure or use except for the six exemptions listed previously.  A 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 zoned lot by setback dimensions from roadways 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 nonfarm uses.  Nonfarm residential uses would require at least a minimum lot size of 20 acres except for various exceptions.  Other uses would need a minimum of 40,000 square feet.  Certain exceptions would apply for (1) dividing off an existing farm dwelling from the farmland; (2) using an historical dwelling site for a new residence; and (3) an existing lot or tract of land used as a residential building site even if it does not meet the minimum lot size requirements; provided, that it was owned separately and individually from adjoining land at the time the regulations become effective.  It has been determined that there are dozens of such lots in the rural area which meet that criteria.  In any case, all three exceptions will need to meet the minimum lot size of three acres of the County Sanitary Code for Environmental Protection plus any additional land that may be needed to meet distance requirements for locating sewage disposal facilities.

  In addition to the three permitted use categories, there are 18 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 nonfarm uses are:  Single‑family  and earth‑sheltered dwellings,  modulars, residential‑design manufactured homes and single or multi‑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 commercial wind energy project.  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 would allow "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, modulars and all types of manufactured and mobile homes on land owned by the homeowner may 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 would 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 for Environmental Protection.

  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 for Environmental Protection.  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 or township 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 15 permitted uses proposed and six special uses including the "Other uses" category.  All business, servicing, storage and display of goods are required to be 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 would 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 would create less environmental problems yet recognize traditional enterprises that normally locate in a rural area such as greenhouses, agricultural and oil related businesses and livestock sales.  Related outdoor operations, storage and display would be permitted.  Eleven uses would be specifically prohibited due to their extensive environmental impact, while six special uses including the "Other uses" category are proposed.

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

      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 to the Board of Zoning Appeals, more extensive home occupations with less restrictions 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 is recognized both permanent and temporary.  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 dwelling for additional assistance on a farm or ranch; (d) temporarily provide housing during a disaster; (3) provide temporary housing while constructing a site‑built house; and (f) 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 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 3/4 vote which in Ottawa 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 appeals from determinations of the Zoning Administrator, variances and 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 of 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 described 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.



  • Dawn Wolf
  • Scott Mortimer
  • D D Malmberg



  • Martha A. Tasker, Chairman
  • Phil Ballou, Vice Chairman
  • Gary C. Keating, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Arlen Bacon
  • Pete Haney
  • Joshua Hulse
  • Chris Lawson
  • Jeff McHenry
  • Robert Jilka


  • Truette McQueen, Zoning Administrator
  • Kim Winsett, Recording Secretary


Summary prepared by C. Bickley Foster, J.D./AICP of Foster & Associates, Planning Consultants, Wichita, Kansas ‑- August 2005.