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Planning & Development

Posted on: February 12, 2024 | Last Modified on: February 12, 2024

Riley County Board of County Commissioners Honors Retiring Planning Board Members

people standing and smiling while being presented certificates

(RILEY COUNTY, KS – February 12, 2024) At today's Riley County Board of County Commissioners meeting, Commissioner McKinley recognized the outstanding contributions of Diane Hoobler and Nathan Larson, two retiring members of the Planning Board, by presenting them with certificates commemorating their years of dedicated service to the community.

With a combined tenure spanning nearly two decades, Diane Hoobler and Nathan Larson have been instrumental in shaping land use planning efforts within Riley County. Planning Director Amanda Webb expressed her gratitude, highlighting the invaluable role of citizen advisory boards in local governance. “Volunteering on a citizen advisory board or committee is an excellent way to get involved with your local government. Planning Board members help to influence land use planning efforts within the entire county,” Webb emphasized.

Diane Hoobler, who served on the Planning Board for 14 years, was initially motivated by her commitment to preserving agricultural land in Riley County. She volunteered to join the Vision 2025 planning effort in 2004 and found the work both interesting and rewarding.

“I got involved because I wanted to protect agriculture,” said Hoobler. “Thankfully, we were able to have good discussions. I believe you have to be open-minded when doing this kind of important work. There are so many topics and people might disagree, but when everyone listens and finds ways to give and take, that’s really what helps.”

Nathan Larson, appointed six years ago, brought his agricultural expertise to the Planning Board, leveraging his background and experience in Agronomy to address complex issues such as urban sprawl and agricultural preservation. He also served on the Vision 2025 comprehensive land use plan committee. Larson emphasized the significance of the Vision 2025 plan in guiding their decisions.

“We talked a lot about urban sprawl versus agricultural preservation, and how to manage those conflicting interests,” said Larson. “The work with the Vision 2025 Plan gave us a good background. We had a feel for what the community wanted and a way to answer questions when they came up.”

Comprised of five members appointed by the Board of County Commissioners, the Planning Board plays a crucial role in guiding the county’s growth and development. Members serve staggered, three-year terms and are tasked with various responsibilities, including the preparation and implementation of comprehensive plans, and conducting public hearings on zoning matters. 

Both Hoobler and Larson underscored the importance of the Land Evaluation Site Assessment (LESA) System in evaluating proposals objectively. Developed uniquely for Riley County, the LESA System considers seven factors, providing a comprehensive framework for assessing a site's agricultural significance.

Amanda Webb, Planning Director said “The LESA (Land Evaluation/Site Assessment) is one of the tools we use to rate a site’s agricultural importance by utilizing seven factors (based on the factors in the Kansas Supreme Court case Golden versus Overland Park of 1978). It’s part of the Development Guidance System that helps local officials make decisions regarding non-agricultural uses and zoning districts.”

As they transition from their roles on the Planning Board, Hoobler and Larson remain committed to community service. Hoobler continues her involvement with the Friends of Zeandale community group, which has been working to build a new park. So far, they've successfully added playground equipment and a mural, and have plans for several additional elements such as volleyball and pickleball courts, and possibly a community building. Larson's continued dedication to the Conservation District Board for more than 30 years of service underscores his ongoing commitment to agricultural stewardship.

Expressing optimism for the future, Larson encouraged greater participation in community service, particularly among young people. "I'm hoping more young people will get involved with community service," Larson remarked. "It seems that a lot of times people are willing, perhaps they just need to be asked."

About the Riley County Planning Board

The Riley County Planning Board plays a vital role in guiding the county's growth and development by formulating comprehensive plans and land development regulations. Comprising dedicated community members, the Planning Board ensures that Riley County remains a desirable place to live, work, and thrive. The Riley County Planning Board/Board of Zoning Appeals meets on the second Monday of each month. Meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. in the Commission Meeting Room, 1st Floor, Courthouse Plaza East, 115 North 4th Street.

Current Planning Board Members:

  • John Wienck, Chair
  • Joe Gelrogh, Vice Chair
  • Erick Peck
  • Rita Cassida
  • Jack Platt

About the LESA System

The Land Evaluation/Site Assessment (LESA) System outlines seven factors to consider when evaluating a proposal:

  • FACTOR 1: The character of the neighborhood.
  • FACTOR 2: The zoning and uses of nearby property.
  • FACTOR 3: The suitability of the property for the uses allowed under the current zoning.
  • FACTOR 4: The impact of rezoning on nearby property.
  • FACTOR 5. The impact of rezoning on public health and safety.
  • FACTOR 6: The public cost/benefits of rezoning.
  • FACTOR 7: Conformance to the comprehensive plan.

Find more information about the LESA System

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