Residents: Say ‘no’ to tiny homes

This site on Meridian, south of Haysville, has been discussed as a location for a tiny home community.

By Travis Mounts

About 40 people packed the Haysville City Council meeting on Monday, July 23, nearly all to either express opposition to the idea of a tiny home development near Haysville, or to support those expressing that opposition.

Several speakers shared their opposition to the idea of a large community for homeless people, many of whom presumably would come from Wichita or elsewhere, and a show of hands showed virtually all in attendance at the meeting opposed any tiny home development.

Mayor Bruce Armstrong tried to stress that while there have been media reports about the idea of a tiny home committee, no plans have been presented to the city of Haysville. Furthermore, the mayor noted, Haysville City Council would have no say on a proposed development at Bergmann’s Corn Maze, which sits near Meridian and 79th Street South outside of the city limits.

“Nothing has come to this council, nothing has come to this city,” the mayor explained.

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Haysville’s planning commission would consider a specific proposal if there was one, because Bergmann’s sits within the Haysville Planning Commission’s zone of influence. Sedgwick County cities’ planning commissions have a say in proposed development near their city limits. If a concrete proposal were to come forward – such as a zoning change request – it would move from the Haysville’s planning commission to the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, a joint body of the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County. Any final changes or plans would have to be approved by Sedgwick County. The Haysville City Council would not be part of the process.

“I’m not against the idea of a tiny home community” for seniors, students or those who want a smaller footprint, Haysville resident Laura Adkins told city leaders. “Haysville does not have jobs or the proper economy to support 2,000 homeless.”

She said a similar development was created in a mountain community she formerly lived in.

“It destroyed our town, panhandling aggressively, theft…,” she said. “You know another crime that went up? Rape.”

Adkins said she is working on a petition against any development, and hopes to have it ready for the next city council meeting.

Other speakers voiced their opposition, too.

“Wichita is just trying to clean up their city, and they’re going to dump that over in Haysville,” said Ron Wood.

City leaders said timing has created confusion around the topic. On May 10, the Haysville Planning Commission tabled a vote on regulations for tiny homes. On May 24, the commission voted 5-3 not to recommend approval of the regulations. But on June 11, the Haysville City Council voted unanimously to approve the regulations, overriding the planning commission.

The Haysville Sun-Times reported in the June 28 edition that leaders of the Wichita charity Let’s Rock and Roll and Change the World were considering Bergmann’s Corn Maze for a tiny home development. Bob Johnson heads the six-year-old charity.

In that story, Mayor Armstrong noted that the city was working on controls for tiny homes independent of Johnson’s group.

“This group was there, but we don’t know anything about any groups that are coming in anywhere,” Armstong said in June, noting that Haysville was trying to be proactive before any developments were proposed.

He reiterated that several times on Monday, and took issue with a recent television report.

“That does not touch the city of Haysville,” Armstrong said, adding that the city would not be able to annex the site – an “island” annexation – without county commission approval. “It does not make sense for us to go out and annex it” because of the cost.

“KSN has inflamed this thing to the point of everyone thinking it’s going to happen tomorrow,” he added. “This body will never vote on it.”

In other business Monday:

• Haysville set Aug. 13 for its public hearing on the 2019 city budget. Chief administrative officer Will Black told the council that the city will not see a mill levy increase for the upcoming year.

• Council members accepted a bid of $174,099.72 from Mies Construction, Inc., for paving, storm water drainage, and water and sewer lines for the Southampton Estates 3rd Addition.

• Council members approved a settlement agreement and release of claims with former police officer Robert L. Crites. Crites will receive a $220,000 payment from the city’s insurance company. Crites claimed he was unlawfully fired because of disability discrimination after suffering post-traumatic stress disorder following an on-duty incident. The city is not out any money, Armstrong noted.

• Lacey Shoeneman raised questions about the recent departure of two school resource officers from the Haysville Police Department, as well as other turnover at the department. Armstrong said the city would look into her concerns.