Photo by George Lauby
The possibility of an industrial development north of North Platte brought sharp protests Monday.County commissioners listened for nearly an hour, but then took no action on a long-range comprehensive zoning plan.
Lincoln County Zoning Administrator Judy Clark said the “comp plan” has been two years in the making. If it passes muster, it would be the first update in 25 years for the plan -- the county blueprint for economic development.
Stewart and Kathy Allen, who own 80 acres in the edge of the hills north of the city, said they were stunned to see a potential industrial zone on the map in their neighborhood.
The area is east of U.S. Highway 83, generally between Hall School Road and Surburban Road, encompassing about two square miles.
The Allens said dozens of people protested the plan in September during a long public hearing with the zoning commission, and at the end of it, understood that the industrial designation would be removed.
Plans were indeed changed, Clark said. The industrial area was removed from zoning maps, but not from the “comp plan” of future possibilities.
Clark said the designation might attract developers who’d like the access to U.S. Highway 83, as well as be within 2-3 miles of North Platte.
But neither neighbors nor officials were persuaded. Dan Mauk, the head of the Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation, said there are better places for industrial development. It's a long ways from city utilities, he noted.
Allen was adamant.
“I thought we made it clear we don’t want industrial zoning in our neighborhood,” he said. “Don’t try to pacify us by saying it’s currently not zoned industrial but could be sometime. We'd have to go through the process again, fight every meeting every time, and if we miss a meeting it’s all over. We don’t want it and we won’t accept it.”
Allen also pointed out a wet meadow is in the designated area, and it is underwater during rainy weather.
County Commissioner Joe Hewgley said the planning commissioner is comprised of a good mix of urban and rural representatives. He said most every decision will irritate someone and he has to think about the public good.
But Kathy Allen said 290 people own land in the proposed industrial area, or adjacent to it.
Commissioner Duane Deterding, who represents that part of the county, said the land should be designated as transitional agriculture for now, and could be changed to industrial if there is interest later.
In the end, Hewgley said he wanted to talk to the planning commission about their reasons for the designation.
Clark said she would arrange for the chairman and vice chairman to come to the county board meeting on Jan. 14.