December 20, 2014

County commission tables discussion regarding $175,000 snake habitat

Mark Taylor
mtaylor@gardnernews.com
Johnson County Commissioners tabled a discussion Aug. 2 on whether to spend $175,000 to mitigate a habitat hazard for two species of snakes considered endangered by the state of Kansas.
Commissioners will revisit the initiative during a future meeting.
Commissioners were told that the snake habitat would be negatively affected by the proposed Blue River Main Wastewater Treatment Plant enlargement plan.
That is according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
The sewer district enlargement was authorized by the county in 2007 at an estimated cost of $4.3 million.
It includes an area of about 563 acres in southwest Shawnee — roughly bordered between 83rdStreet and Monticello Road.
Commissioners said they wanted more information on the state’s mandate before proceeding with the measure.
Three property owners want to connect to the sewer district.
Commissioners Calvin Hayden and Jim Allen called the endangered habitat request “absurd.”
“We are being held hostage here,” Hayden said.
According to a briefing sheet distributed to county commissioners, the KDW wants Johnson County to pay $175,000 for the “creation, maintenance and monitoring for five years for the habitat creation, plus additional monitoring thereafter.”
The breed of snakes include the Northern Redbelly Snake and the Smooth Earth Snake.  They were identified in the memo to be “very small snakes. They are non-venomous.”

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