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September 27th, 2021

city of liberal logoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


The Liberal City Commission will be keeping itself busy at its next meeting this evening starting at 5:30. 

Up first for the commission will be some rezoning requests, beginning with property at 1020 N. Grant. 

“An application for the rezone of property at 1020 N. Grant Avenue was reviewed and approved due to direct correlation of zoning ordinance where it allows abutting zone changes,” the agenda information noted. “This rezone is being brought to the Liberal City Commission for its decision to approve, approve with condition, or deny. If approved, Ordinance No. 4562 is provided.”

The commission will also be revisiting a request to rezone property at 624 N. Grant Avenue from an R-3 to C-2. This issue was brought up at the commission’s Aug. 10 meeting. 

“My driveway is directly in front of that building they’re trying to rezone,” local citizen Barnabas Rix said at the Aug. 10 meeting. “I’ve been at that address for 13 years, I bought it as a single-family residence, and I am totally against this rezoning. If they start with this building, they might want to build on or something like that, and I don’t want this to disrupt my taxes. I know you said it won’t, but once it hits, there’s no reversing that. I would like things to stay exactly how they are. My neighbors feel the same way, they’ve been there a long time. We have a very good, quiet community, and we don’t need anything else over there.”

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“We live at and own the property at 623 N. Sherman Avenue, and directly east of my property is that building at 624 N. Grant Avenue,” local citizen Nikki Patterson said at the Aug. 10 meeting. “I’m opposed to the rezoning of the residential property to a C-2 general commercial. We purchased the house more than 25 years ago because we wanted to live in a residential neighborhood and not a commercial area. The neighborhood has families with children playing in yards, the brick roads, and the tree-lined street, which is a  special part of Liberal. There is no other commercial property in that area, it is spot-zoned. If this property gets rezoned, it will adversely affect us. There will be an impact in the community. There will be more noise and who knows what type of business will be there, and who knows what hours the noise will last. More traffic will also be driving through, and who knows what type of traffic that will be. There will be a negative effect on the families in this neighborhood. The presence of commercial property can significantly impact the value of our homes, and not in a good way. I can see the property from my yard and everywhere else in my home. I don’t want to be looking at a commercial business with tons of stuff coming and going, and I don’t think it’s fair I should have to when I bought a home in a residential neighborhood. Who knows what other problems could happen if this gets rezoned to commercial? It isn’t a good move for the future of our neighborhood.”

The commission will also be revisiting a proposal to levy a general 1 percent retailer’s sales tax, which will be a question on the ballot in the November election. This issue had been brought up in a lengthy discussion about city revenues at the commission’s last meeting. 

“For the past eight years, the City of Liberal mill levy has stayed steady, it hasn’t moved almost at all, while there have been ups and downs across the spectrum with the other entities,” Focus on the Future Committee member Earl Watt said at the commission’s Aug. 24 meeting. “The problem is, the city residents – and I’m not knocking the other entities, it’s just facts and how things are set up – the other entities have had decreased valuations, which means something has to be made up. The city paid more, and continues to pay more because of those tax adjustments. If we continue to look at property taxes as the only way to fund what we need, the City residents and the roughly 6,700 homes taxed in this community will always pay an inordinate amount of the taxes for the county, the school and the college. But they don’t have to pay for the advantages of the City benefits they receive by having City of Liberal and Seward County. The data we’ve collected suggests the City of Liberal should explore more equitable options to increase the city’s budget. If people want to see improvements, the only way the city will get that money is if everyone can contribute. We need to consider other alternatives besides property taxes as far as how we can improve and enhance Liberal on a regular general fund approach. We cannot continue asking the citizens of Liberal to increase their mill levy that’s not just for the city’s benefit, but they’re getting hit from all directions. We need to find more equitable ways, and ways for contributors to be able to contribute.”

The commission will also hear a request from the Liberal Fire Department. 

“We have been contacted by members of the Garden City Fire Department in regards to the Liberal Fire Department potentially becoming part of the Kansas Search & Rescue Task Force Team #6,” the agenda information noted. “This team is made up of members of fire departments located in the southwest part of the state and have centralized resources housed and maintained by the Garden City Fire Department. Team #6 consists of highly trained individuals who are deployed only under the direction of the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office.”

The commission will also hear a Diversion Fund request from the Liberal Police Department along with a request from the City of Liberal Water Department for the purchase of a pickup truck. The meeting will conclude with deciding on the League of Kansas Municipalities voting delegates from the commission and then a discussion about Grier House. 

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