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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hunting issue may put city and county at odds

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lane Cutler, second from left, shows Bourbon County Commissioners the fence that separates his property from city-owned acreage near Lake Fort Scott that was recently approved for hunting by the city of Fort Scott. Pictured from left are County Commissioner Jingles Endicott, Cutler and county commissioners Harold Coleman and Allen Warren.
(Laurie Sisk/Tribune)
A recent decision by the Fort Scott City Commission to lease land to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to allow hunting on city-owned property near Lake Fort Scott may soon put the city of Fort Scott and Bourbon County at odds.

Residents have begun appearing before the panel requesting the county make the city responsible for building fences to keep hunters off their privately owned land.

Under Kansas law, county officials have the right to view fences and then determine who is responsible for the fences.

The city is no different than any other entity or individual property owner when it comes to fence issues within the county, County Attorney Terri Johnson said.

Based on Johnson's interpretation of fence-viewing laws, county commissioners decided on Monday that there was ample reason to go ahead with a scheduled fence viewing on a piece of property owned by Lane Cutler, which is connected to the city-owned property, despite objections from the city of Fort Scott.

In a letter Monday to Bourbon County Clerk Joanne Long, Robert L. Farmer, an attorney for the city, wrote: "Please be advised the city of Fort Scott objects to a fence viewing today."

Attorneys for the city contend the usage of the properties are "in common," while county officials believe there is evidence to the contrary, enough at least to warrant a fence viewing.

Johnson describes the legal explanation of "in common" as sharing entitlement, use or enjoyment.

"If you believe the land in question is not in common, then it is appropriate to do the fence viewing," Johnson advised the county commissioners.

Commissioners took a tour of the Cutler property yesterday to view the condition of a fence built between the properties by the city of Fort Scott around 1957 for about $4,000. Though parts of the fence were intact, other sections were no longer there, or badly in need of repair.

Commissioners tentatively plan to issue their ruling Friday.

Marti Tuchscherer also requested a fence viewing of her approximately 100 acres near Lake Fort Scott, also because of the new hunting area. Tuchscherer also requested a road closing and vacation because of trash being dumped on or near her property from 200th to 210th streets on Grand Road.

"The city may have opened a whole can of worms," Commissioner Jingles Endicott said of the hunting matter during Friday's commission meeting.

Last Friday, David Stewart also met with commissioners and requested a fence viewing between his property and the city-owned property near Lake Scott.

Stewart attended a Fort Scott City Commission meeting last Tuesday, where he raised objections to the city's plans to allow hunting on city-owned property that is adjacent to his own.

During that meeting, District Wildlife Biologist Justin Harbit said the areas will be open only to walk-in hunting and no vehicles or ATVs will be allowed. Only shotguns using pellets, not slugs, and bows and arrows may be used to hunt.

In other business, commissioners:

* Reviewed an email sent to County Treasurer Susan Quick last Thursday from Terry Sercer, of Diehl Banwart Bolten CPAs, pertaining to a $3,400 shortfall in an escrow suspense fund, also known as the partial payment plan.

The email states that it appears that payments from a number of people on the partial payment plan were transferred to the delinquent tax fund last November after they had already been transferred there once before. To correct the error, Sercer recommended transferring $3,479.01 from the delinquent property tax to the escrow suspense fund.

* Brenda Boehn, of the Community Emergency Response Team, informed commissioners of changes in guidelines for the volunteer group.

The revised guidelines change the focus of the group to include more specialized use of the talents of existing members.

"If it came down to a disaster, those of us with specialized training could be more fully utilized," Boehn said.

Commissioners approved the changes, which included a recommendation that all members know CPR and a change that provided a system to remove members.

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