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Rural living in Doniphan County: what you need to know


If you are contemplating buying or building a home in the unincorporated area of Doniphan County, it is important for you to know that living in the unincorporated area is different from life in the city.  Agriculture is very important to the Doniphan County economy and the State of Kansas, and has priority in the rural areas. It is the policy of the State and the County, to conserve, protect, and encourage the development and improvement of farmland for the production of food and other agricultural products. Kansas has a right-to- farm law to help protect agricultural activities from nuisance lawsuits.

Agriculture Activity

Local farmers often work from early morning until late at night, especially during the planting and harvesting seasons. With this activity there can be a lot of noise from farm machinery near your home; increased vehicle traffic to and from the fields; dust, dust pollen, and mold spores from crops and crop residue; and possibly the lights of equipment shining onto your property. It is possible that normal and accepted farming practices may be disruptive to your lifestyle and/or affect your personal health.

  • Land preparation and other operations can cause large amounts of dust, especially during windy and dry conditions.
  • Farmers sometimes burn their crop stubble after harvest. This may cause a lot of thick smoke, an odor, and burning ashes falling on neighboring property.
  • Fertilizer, herbicides, and chemicals are often used in farming operations. Wind may drift these chemicals onto neighboring property.
  • Concentrations of animals may cause objectionable odors and attract flies.
  • Some farm animals can be dangerous.


Some soils found in Doniphan County may be expansive and cause damage to foundations.  Information on county soils is available from the Doniphan County Kansas State University Research and Extension Office, Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, or USDA National Resource Conservation Service.

Wild animals can be fascinating neighbors, but they may also pose dangers. Deer cross roads unexpectedly. Skunks are odoriferous. Coyotes, badgers, skunks, raccoon, opossums, and other animals cause damage to gardens and buildings, and can cause the death of pets. Hunting of animals takes place in rural areas and is controlled by the property owner.

Roads and Access

The fact that you are able to drive to your potential future home site on a beautiful day does not mean that this will be the situation at all times. With snow, ice, heavy rains and flooding occurring, the following should also be considered:

  • Doniphan County maintains over 73 miles of paved roads and over 400 miles of graveled and dirt roads. The condition of these roads varies greatly.
  • Extreme weather conditions may create difficult driving conditions. Rain, ice or snow can turn gravel roads into a hazard. Flood waters may close roads temporarily. Snow, especially if drifting, may make roads impassable.
  • Vehicles cause dust on unpaved roads. Unpaved roads may be slippery when wet, possibly making it difficult to steer and brake. Braking distance on gravel roads is much greater than on paved roads.
  • Bridges on gravel roads are usually narrower than bridges on major roads.
  • Large, slow-moving farm vehicles and equipment often travel the rural roads.
  • Low-use/low- maintenance roads may not be upgraded.
  • Mail delivery may not be convenient in some areas.
  • School bus routes should be considered if you have, or will have, school-aged children.
  • Traveling on gravel surfaced roads will increase vehicle maintenance costs.

Utilities and Services

Electric, natural gas, cable television, internet, and other services may not be available at the same level as in the city. In the case of water supply and sewage treatment, they are your responsibility as the property owner.

  • If a public sewer system is not available to the land that you are contemplating buying, you will be required to construct and maintain an on-site wastewater system to serve your house. This system, depending on the type, may be expensive to install and maintain, as well as, time consuming and unpleasant. Permits for wastewater systems are issued by the Northeast Kansas Environmental Services, and you should contact them at 785-985- 2778 for further information.
  • Rural water districts serve the rural areas of the county. You should check to see if the land you are contemplating buying is served by a water district. Even if served by a water district, the district’s system and policies may restrict your water use. If you need to drill an on-site water well, you should check the situation thoroughly. Although Doniphan County receives approximately 36” of precipitation annually, the availability of groundwater, and its quality, may not be guaranteed. Groundwater quantity and quality in some parts of the county may not meet your needs. A permit to drill an on-site water well is required from the Northeast Kansas Environmental Services.
  • Natural gas service is not available to the rural county areas. Propane gas may be the only fuel source. Propane gas is normally more expensive than natural gas.
  • An electrical service line may not be located close to the land you are looking at. If a power line is not within a certain distance, you may have to pay for an extension of service to the land. You should check with Doniphan Electric COOP with regard to the total costs of such an extension if the land is in this situation. Winter ice and wind storms can bring down power lines and you may be without power for many hours or days.
  • It will take longer for fire, medical and law enforcement service to respond to an emergency in the county than it would in the city.


Those who live in the rural areas of the county often experience nature at a greater intensity, both positively and negatively, than the city dweller.

  • Even normally dry creeks can flood after heavy rains. Doniphan County Zoning Regulations do not allow building in an identified 100 year flood plain, including wastewater systems. Flood plain maps are available for review in the Zoning Office.
  • Inclement weather, such as ice, flooding, or snow, may make roads impassable, isolating you from work, shopping, school, or emergency assistance. All major roads will be plowed and opened before minor roads are opened.
  • There are no outdoor/warning sirens in the incorporated areas of the county.

Zoning and Subdivision Regulations

  • Your lot will need to meet the minimum acreage requirement of 2 acres.
  • Building permits are required for new residential and accessory buildings on lot sizes from 2 to 5 acres in the unincorporated county areas.
  • All lands within the Agricultural Zone are located in an area where land is used for commercial agricultural production. Owners, residents, and other users of this property or neighboring property may be subjected to inconvenience, discomfort, and the possibility of injury to property and health arising from the normal and accepted agricultural practices and operations, including but not limited to, noise, odors, dust, the operations of machinery of any kind, including aircraft, the storage and disposal of manure, the application of fertilizers soil amendments, herbicides, and pesticides.
  • There may be existing easements on the land that are not visually apparent. These easements may give another party the right to build a pipeline, install a facility or utility, and prevent you from building where you may want on the site. Be sure to check for any easements through a title search.
  • You may be provided with a plat drawing of your property. To be accurate, the land needs to have been properly surveyed by a state-licensed surveyor and monumented with property pins.
  • Subdivisions may have private restrictive covenants that place limits on what can be placed on the land. You should check to see if there are any covenants on the land you are thinking of buying. A copy of any deed restrictions can be obtained from the Doniphan County Register of Deeds.
  • Subdivisions may have roads or other facilities that are private and maintained by the subdivision lot purchasers. Maintenance fees and operations may be overseen by a homeowners association which there may be yearly fees that you will be expected to pay.
  • Zoning and subdivision changes may occur in any area, bringing change to the rural setting.

In Conclusion

Please remember, there is a difference between country living and living in the country. Making the decision to live in a rural unincorporated area should be approached with as much knowledge as possible. Do not assume anything when making your decision, instead make every effort to gather and consider all of the facts bearing on your decision – the pros and cons.


The information was prepared by the following entities:

  • Doniphan County Planning and Zoning Administrator
  • Doniphan County Road and Bridge Director
  • Northeast Kansas Environmental Services Sanitarian