Plans to build a small specialty meat story in Douglas County, Kan., have run into problems, thanks to the objections of a potential neighbor — who happens to be Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The building had gained the approval of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, but Kobach has become the spokesman of area residents who oppose the business.
The Burning Barrel is the brainchild of Brian Stecker, a longtime Lawrence chef. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, the business will produce specialty hams, sausages, pork and beef. The business would be situated in a 640-square-foot building in a 30-acre space. Kobach owns a one-bedroom house on 160 acres, less than a mile from The Burning Barrel’s proposed location. He has raised concerns that the facility would ruin the beauty of the area.
“This is a real dramatic alteration to the county comprehensive plan,” Kobach told the Planning Commission at the meeting to discuss The Burning Barrel permit.
Kobach described Strecker's business as a “hog processing plant” and said it violates the county's agriculture zoning requirements.
Kobach, who isn't a resident of Douglas County, told the commission he was representing “both himself and an organization that may become involved in this. That organization is my law firm. We'll see.”
Stecker responded that Kobach is misrepresenting his business, which is not permitted to slaughter animals. Other restrictions limit the number of employees and mandate that odors, noise, lights and vibrations cannot be detected outside the property boundary.
Kobach himself has been the subject of permit issues after he was found to be constructing a 1,250-square-foot building inside a 2,500 square-foot metal building without a permit. The Journal-World reports that there were numerous code violations, and Kobach did not have to pay the required fee for beginning construction without the permit.
“I'm actually trying to go through the right procedure, and he didn't at all,” Strecker said. “He is an elected official. It really detracts from his standing in the community.”