|Shawnee County Conservation District - (785) 267-5721||.............||Version 1.4|
Every person in the United States is bound by an unwritten code of conduct. The values of integrity and self reliance guide decisions, actions and interactions. In keeping with that spirit, we offer this information to help the citizens of Shawnee County to respect those currently living in the country and their lifestyles in order to promote a harmonious environment for all.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The information on this page is not intended to discourage people from moving or living in the country. Rather, it is important to know that life in the country is different from life in the city. County governments are not able to provide the same level of service that city governments provide. To that end, we are providing you with the following information to help you make an educated and informed decision before you purchase rural land so your dream doesnít become a nightmare.
The fact that you can drive to your property does not necessarily guarantee that you, your guests and emergency service vehicles can achieve that same level of access at all times. Please consider:
1.1 Emergency response times (sheriff, fire suppression, medical care, etc.) cannot be guaranteed. Under some extreme conditions, you may find that emergency response is extremely slow and expensive. Easily visible house numbers on the house or mailbox reduces emergency response time.
1.2 There can be problems with the legal aspects of access, especially if you gain access across property belonging to others. It is wise to obtain legal advice and understand the easements that may be necessary when these types of questions arise. In other words, if you are counting on it, get it in writing.
1.3 New entrances and culverts, etc. must meet county and township guidelines. When considering where to locate entrances and driveways be sure they will be driveable during rainy or snowy weather. Road construction across or through ravines, water courses, or waterways must be carefully planned. Imagine the full dimension the flow way will have when it is full of water. A couple of small tubes just will not cut it. Water will often flow over your road and wash it out. Also, if the drainage above where you plan to put your crossing is 160 acres or more you must obtain approval from the Division of Water Resources.
1.4 There are some roads that are low maintenance with no grading or snow plowing. Make sure you know what type of maintenance to expect and who will provide that maintenance by calling the Shawnee County Public Works.
1.5 Extreme weather conditions can change road conditions in a hurry. Be alert. Even maintained roads can become impassible. You may need a four wheel drive vehicle with chains for all four wheels to travel during those episodes which could last for several days.
1.6 Many large construction vehicles cannot navigate small, narrow roads. If you plan to build, it is prudent to check out construction access. Provide a wide entrance to your property.
1.61 If you build a locked entrance (gate), be sure it is recessed back off the road enough so you can park in your drive, fully off the main road, while you lock or unlock your gate.
1.7 School buses travel only on maintained roads that have been designated as school bus routes by the school district. Your child may have to meet the school bus at the nearest designated bus route. Contact your school district for more information.
1.8 Natural disasters, especially floods, can destroy roads. Heavy rainfall can cause low water crossings and low areas to flood. A dry creek bed can become a flooded area covering roads and bridges, often taking several hours to recede. Public roads are maintained by various state, county and township entities. Contact for information about who is responsible for specific roads. Residents served by private roads and/or bridges may have large bills for repairs and/or reconstruction after floods. During high water, emergency medical services or fire protection may not be able to reach you.
1.9 Unpaved roads generate dust. Dust is a fact of life in the country. County and townships will give permission to treat segments of roadways adjacent to property. You would need to check with the Shawnee County Public Works to find out the cost to do so.
1.10 If your road is unpaved, it is highly unlikely that Shawnee County will pave it in the foreseeable future. Check with the Shawnee County Public Works when any statement is made by the seller of any property that indicates an unpaved road will be paved!
1.11 Unpaved roads are not always smooth and are often slippery when they are wet or icy. In fact, county roads are last to be cleared of ice and snow. Watch out. You will experience an increase in vehicle maintenance costs (more tire repair) when you regularly travel on unpaved roads. Buy a good set of tires.
1.12 Mail delivery is available to all areas of the county.
1.13 Standard parcel and overnight package delivery may need special arrangements made for delivery for those who live in the country. Confirm with the service providers as to your status.
1.14 Newspaper delivery is similarly not always available to rural areas. Check with the newspaper of your choice before assuming you can get delivery.
1.15 It may be more expensive and time consuming to build a rural residence due to delivery fees, etc. Your builder should be able to answer your questions. See Shawnee County Building permit regulations for the cost of building inspections.
Water, sewer, electric, telephone, cable television and other services may be unavailable or may not operate at urban standards. Repairs can often take much longer than in towns and cities. Please review your options from the non- exhaustive list below.
2.1 Telephone communications can be a problem. It may be difficult to obtain a phone line for fax or computer modem uses. Even cellular phones will not work in all areas.
2.2 If sewer service is available to your property, it may be expensive to hook into the system. It also may be expensive to maintain the system you use.
2.3 If sewer service is not available, you will need to use an approved septic system or other treatment process. Find out before you buy. The type of soil and geological conditions available for a leach field will be very important in determining the cost and function of your system. Have the site location checked by the Shawnee County Health Department.
2.4 If you have access to a supply of treated domestic water, the tap fees can be expensive. You may also find that your monthly cost of service can be costly when compared to municipal systems. Just be aware of the water rates and monitor water use.
2.5 If you do not have access to a supply of treated domestic water, you will have to locate an alternative supply. The most common method is use of a water well. Permits for wells are granted by the Shawnee County Health Department and the cost for drilling and pumping can be considerable. The quality and quantity of well water can vary considerably from location to location and from season to season or may be non-existent. Drilling a water well does not guarantee you will locate water. To provide water to their property, landowners have had to install cisterns and have water delivered. It is strongly advised that you research this issue very carefully before buying.
2.5a If you plan to use an existing well, get the water tested before use. People will say they got the flu. What it might be is the bacteria they got from their well water. Be safe. The Shawnee County Health Department will do the test for a nominal fee.
2.6 Electric service is not readily available to every area of Shawnee County. It is important to determine the proximity of electrical power. It can be very expensive to extend power lines to remote areas.
2.7 It may be necessary to cross property owned by others in order to extend electric service to your property in the most cost efficient manner. It is important to make sure that the proper easements are in place to allow lines to be built to your property.
2.8 If you have special power requirements, contact your local utility company.
2.9 If you are purchasing land with the plan to build at a future date, there is a possibility that electric lines (and other utilities) may not be large enough to accommodate you if others connect during the time you wait to build.
2.10 The cost of electric service is usually divided into a fee to hook into the system and then a monthly charge for energy consumed. It is important to know both costs before making a decision to purchase a specific piece of property.
2.11 Power outages can occur in outlying areas with more frequency than in more developed areas. A loss of electric power can also interrupt your supply of water from a well. You may also lose food in freezers or refrigerators and power outages can cause problems with computers as well. Some people buy electric generators as back-up.
2.13 Trash removal can be much more expensive in a rural area than in a city. It is good to know available pick up times as well. Roaming dogs love to spread out trash the night before the trash truck comes.
2.14 Recycling is more difficult because pick-up is not available in most rural areas.
There are many issues that can affect your property. It is important to research these items before purchasing land.
3.1 Not all lots are buildable. You must check with the Shawnee County Zoning and Codes Department to know that a piece of land can be built on before you purchase the property.
3.2 Easements may require you to allow construction of roads, power lines, water lines, sewer lines, etc. across your land. There may be easements that are not of record. Check these issues carefully.
3.3 Many property owners do not own the mineral rights under their property. It is very important to review your title policy to know what minerals may be located under the land and who owns them.
3.4 Be aware that adjacent mining uses can expand and cause negative impacts. Adjoining land use can change.
3.5 You may be provided with a plat of your property, but unless the land has been surveyed and pins placed by a licensed surveyor, you cannot assume that the plat is accurate. Donít build any property line fence, driveway, structure, or start clearing trees before you are certain of the boundaries.
3.6 Fences that separate properties are often misaligned with the property lines. A survey of the land is the only way to confirm the location of your property lines. Sometimes after a fence has been in a location long enough, even if wrong, it becomes the property line.
3.61 If you share a fence in common with another landowner and you have livestock and they donít, you are responsible for maintaining the entire length of fence. If you both have livestock then you are responsible for everything from the center to the right end.
3.7 Many subdivisions have covenants that limit the use of the property. It is important to obtain a copy of the covenants (or confirm that there are none) and make sure that you can live with those rules. Also, a lack of covenants can cause problems between neighbors.
3.8 Homeowners associations (HOAs) are required to take care of common elements, roads, open space, etc. A dysfunctional homeowners association or poor covenants can cause problems for you and even involve you in expensive litigation.
3.9 Carefully read the title policy to your property and understand what it means.
3.10 Dues are almost always a requirement for those areas with a HOA. The by- laws of the HOA will tell you how the organization operates and how the dues are set.
3.11 The surrounding properties will probably not remain as they are indefinitely. You can check with the Shawnee County Planning Office to find out how the properties are zoned and to see what future developments may be in the planning stages. The view from your property may change.
3.12 The Kansas Water Appropriation Act protects both the peopleís right to use Kansas water and the stateís supplies of ground and surface water for the future. The law is administered by the Kansas State Board of Agricultureís division of water resources which issues permits to appropriate water, regulates usage, and keeps records of all water rights in the state.
3.13 Flowing water can be a hazard, especially to young children. Before you decide to locate your home near an active stream, consider the possible danger to your family.
Residents of the country usually experience more problems when the elements and earth turn unfriendly. Here are some thoughts for you to consider.
4.1 Expansive soils can buckle concrete foundations and twist steel I-beams. Problems can be avoided using proper construction techniques. You can know the soil conditions on your property if you refer to the soil survey report of Shawnee County.4.4 The topography of the land can tell you where the water will go in the case of heavy precipitation. When property owners fill in gullies, they have found that the water that drained through that gully now drains through their house.
4.5 A flash flood can occur, especially during the spring and fall months, and turn a dry stream into a river. It is wise to take this possibility into consideration when choosing a building site.
4.51 Watershed dams have permanent flood easements. Check before you build.
4.6 Spring run-off can cause a very small creek to become a major river. Many residents use sand bags to protect their homes. The county does not provide sand bags, equipment or people to protect private property from flooding.
4.7 Before you alter a watercourse or drainage area, be sure to contact the Kansas Division of Water Resources. You may not add extra drainage to any watercourse leaving your property. Rainwater cannot be trapped in a pond if it adversely affects up or downstream owners. Water cannot be diverted from itís natural course as it leaves a property.
4.8 Nature can provide you with some wonderful neighbors. Most, such as deer and eagles are positive additions to the environment. However, even "harmless" animals like deer can cross the road unexpectedly and cause traffic accidents. Rural development encroaches on the traditional habitat of coyotes, bobcats, rattlesnakes, prairie dogs, mosquitoes and other animals that can be dangerous and you need to know how to deal with them. In general, it is best to enjoy wildlife from a distance and know that if you do not handle your pets and trash properly, it could cause problems for you and the wildlife. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is a good resource for information.
4.9 A back-up sump pump not requiring 110 volt electrical service should be considered. That way, when the power goes off and itís still raining, your basement wonít fill up with water.
Agriculture is an important part of our environment and heritage. Owning rural land means knowing how to care for it. There are a few things you need to know:
5.1 Farmers often work around the clock, especially during planting and harvest time. Dairy operators sometimes milk without stopping and hay is often swathed or baled at night. It is possible that adjoining agriculture uses can disturb your peace and quiet.
5.2 Land preparation and other operations can cause dust, especially during windy and dry weather.
5.3 Farmers occasionally burn their fields to keep them clean of debris, weeds and other obstructions. This burning creates smoke that you may find objectionable.
5.4 Chemicals (mainly fertilizers and herbicides) are often used in growing crops. You may be sensitive to these substances and many people actually have severe allergic reactions. Many of these chemicals are applied by airplanes that fly early in the morning.
5.5 Agriculture is an important business in Shawnee County. If you choose to live among the farms and ranches of our rural countryside, do not expect county and state government to intervene in the normal day-to-day operations of your agri-business neighbors. In fact, Kansas has "Right to Farm" legislation that protects farmers and ranchers from nuisance and liability lawsuits. It enables them to continue producing food and fiber.
5.6 Before buying land you should know if it has noxious weeds that may be expensive to control and you may be required to control. Some plants are poisonous to humans and animals.
Pets are enjoyable to have. They can alert you of visitors to your property, provide companionship but do require your attention.
6.1 If you own pets, horses or any livestock, you have a responsibility to properly care for them. They require food, shelter from rain and snow, from cold winds and hot sun, bedding, and plenty of fresh water.
6.2 Watch your pets. Landowners should remember that their dogs can cause great harm to livestock, fences, etc. Dogs do have a tendency to pack occasionally and go on "hunts." There are laws that allow for the destruction of dogs that chase or worry livestock. Usually livestock owners notify pet owners and the problem is solved before more drastic measures are necessary.
6.3 Animals and their manure can cause objectionable odors. What else can we say?
6.4 Animals can be dangerous. Bulls, stallions, rams, boars, etc. can attack human beings. Adults and children need to know that it is not always safe to enter pens where animals are kept.
6.5 There is a limit to the amount of grazing the land can handle. Overgrazing causes weed, erosion and sedimentation problems.
6.6 Landowners should not feed the neighborís cattle with grass clippings and such. Chemicals for lawns may make livestock sick. Also, it may cause the cattle to force their way through the fence to your lawn and garden.
This information is by no means exhaustive. There are other issues that you may encounter that we have overlooked and we encourage you to be vigilant in your duties to explore and examine those things that could cause your move to be less than you expect.
Again, we have offered these comments in the sincere hope that it can help you enjoy your decision to reside in the country. It is not our intent to dissuade you, only inform you.
Help guide to specific questions.
More complete list of agencies.
Corps Of Engineers
Kansas City District, Corps of Engineers
601 East 12th Street
700 Federal Building
Kansas City, Missouri 64106-2896
816-983-3653 FAX 816-426-2321
The Corps of Engineers has had regulatory responsibility of the nation's navigable waters since passage of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. This regulatory responsibility was further expanded with the passage of Section 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, now known as the Clean Water Act.
Farm Services Agency
3231 SW Van Buren, Suite 1
Topeka, Kansas 66611-2291
785-266-9053 FAX 785-266-8293
An agency within the United States Department of Agriculture, FSA, (formerly ASCS) administers federal farm programs through a variety activities. These include cropping histories, price support payments and catastrophe crop insurance.
Kansas Department of Agriculture
Division Of Water Resources
901 S Kansas Ave., Suite 200
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1283
785-296-3717 FAX 785-296-1176
The Division of Water Resources, DWR, headed by the Chief Engineer-Director, is one of six Divisions within the Kansas Department of Agriculture. It has five Field Offices, Topeka, Stafford, Stockton, Garden City and Chanute. The Division is a water regulatory agency, dealing primarily with water quantity issues, and is responsible for administering 28 State laws. It has two major statutory responsibilities, the Kansas Water Appropriation Act and the Kansas Stream Obstruction Act.
Kansas Department Of Health And Environment
Northeast District Office
800 W. 24th St.
Lawrence, Kansas 66046
785-842-4600 FAX 785-842-3537
The major goal of the KDHE is to identify, correct and prevent sources of environmental contamination. The KDHE conducts field inspections of KDHE permitted facilities and site appraisals at facilities that apply for a KDHE permit. Technical assistance is provided to help facilities understand environmental regulations and statutes and the conditions of their permits. When a facility is found violating applicable laws or regulations, KDHE strives to work cooperatively with the facility operators to correct violations.
Kansas Department Of Transportation
Bureau Of Construction And Maintenance
Docking State Office Building, 8th Floor
Topeka, Kansas 66612
785-296-3576 FAX 785-296-0999
The purpose of the Kansas Department of Transportation is to coordinate the planning, development and operation of the various modes and system of transportation within the state. KDOT is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the 10,000 mile State Highway System. KDOT also has a degree of responsibility for the Development of all modes of transportation including roads (both state and locally owned), aviation, railroads and public transit.
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
3300 SW 29th
Topeka, Kansas 66614
785-273-6740 FAX 785-273-6757
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is a state agency. Its goal is to conserve and enhance Kansas' natural wildlife and its habitats while providing the public with opportunities to use and appreciate the natural resources of Kansas, consistent with the conservation of those resources.
Kansas Geological Survey
West Campus, University Of Kansas
1930 Constant Ave.
Lawrence, Kansas 66047
785-864-3965 FAX 785-864-5317
The Kansas Geological Survey, KGS, is a division of the University of Kansas and has no regulatory responsibility. The KGS is responsible for studying and reporting on the State's groundwater, petroleum and other earth resources and geologic hazards.
Kansas State Research and Extension
Northeast Area Extension Office
1515 College Ave.
Manhattan, Kansas 66502
785-532-5833 FAX 785-532-5887
Develops, grows and distributes woody plants for use in windbreaks, woodland plantings and wildlife habitat developments. Involved in several information and education efforts to promote and enhance forestry throughout Kansas.
Kansas State Historical Society
6425 SW 6th
Topeka, Kansas 66615
The mission of the Kansas State Historical Society is to identify, collect, preserve, research, interpret and disseminate for public use, materials pertaining to Kansas and regional history and to promote the study of Kansas history and the appreciation of its significance. The society is organized around six divisions including, administration, cultural resources, education/outreach, historic sites, Kansas Museum of History, and library and archives.
Natural Resources Conservation Service
3231 SW Van Buren, Suite 2
Topeka, Kansas 66611-2291
785-267-5721 FAX 785-266-8293
An agency in the United States Department Of Agriculture. The Natural Resources Conservation Service, working closely with the local Shawnee County Conservation District, objective is to provide individuals and groups with on-site technical recommendations and practice design concerning natural resource problems and management. Its goal is to sustain the long term quality of the soil, water, plant, air and animal resources in balance with human needs.
Keep America Beautiful, Shawnee County
2933 SW Woodside Drive, Suite C
Topeka, Kansas 66614-4181
785-273-6808 FAX 785-273-2405
LCC is the local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. The program encourages cooperation between the public and private sector. It strives to inspire greater civic improvement for a cleaner, healthier community. Quarterly Brighten Your Corner awards are presented for beautification, enhancement, clean up and renovation projects.
Shawnee County Conservation District
3231 SW Van Buren, Suite 2
Topeka, Kansas 66611-2291
785-267-5721 FAX 785-266-8293
Internet: http://www.cjnetworks.com/~sccdistrict Email: email@example.com
Established in 1954, the Shawnee County Conservation District is a subdivision of State government. It is involved in a voluntary program of education, planning and application of conservation practices to conserve and protect our soil and water. The district works closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and other agencies to assist in this effort.
K-State Research and Extension, Shawnee County
1740 SW Western Avenue
Topeka, Kansas 66604-3095
785-232-0062 FAX 785-232-0093
The Shawnee County Extension Service provides un-bias research information and recommendations from Kansas State University to the public in areas of agriculture, home economics and 4-H. Educational material, youth programs and individualized assistance is key areas of service to the public.
Shawnee County Public Works
1515 NW Saline
Topeka, Kansas 66618
785-233-7702 FAX 785-291-4920
The Shawnee County Public Works is responsible for activities within county right-of-ways and other concerns of general interest to the county as a whole. Maintenance of roads, bridges, zoning issues, underground sewer systems and new sub-division plan review is some of the main responsibilities.
Shawnee County Health Agency
Environmental Health Division
1615 SW 8th Street
Topeka, Kansas 66606
785-368-2000 FAX 785-368-2098
The agency was formed in 1948 as a City-County District. General sanitation, weed control and inspection of food service establishments have been its responsibilities since that time. Under county-wide zoning, septic system and water supply inspections were also done from that time. Over the years, other programs were added: Air Pollution and Housing Code Enforcement in 1964, and Local Environment Protection Plan (LEPP) in 1990.
Shawnee County Noxious Weed
2044 SW Western Avenue
Topeka, Kansas 66604-3095
785-232-0120 FAX 785-232-8802
An agency charged with the administration and enforcement of the Kansas Noxious Weed Law. Shawnee County Noxious Weeds works with landowners providing cost-share chemical and rental sprayers to control noxious weeds.
Topeka Public Works
1115 NE Poplar
Topeka, Kansas 66616-1389
(785) 295-3851 FAX (785) 295-3855
The Topeka Public Works is responsible for wide range of zoning, construction, permits, inspections, plan reviews, storm water, drinking water, sanitary sewer and other concerns of general interest within the City of Topeka.
U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service
315 Houston, Suite E
Manhattan, Kansas 66502
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in responsible for the enforcement of various federal wildlife statutes and regulations. This includes trust species, waterfowl and eagles. The USFWS works closely with many state and federal agencies and private individuals with a wide variety of educational activities dealing with education and wildlife habitat improvement.
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