04 August 2016

Updating Cherry County Development Plan

An update of the Cherry County Comprehensive Development Plan has been initiated by the county Planning and Zoning Commission. At their meeting on August 2nd — in the commissioner’s room at the county building on Main Street — the five members present discussed the steps needed. Several county residents were also present.

An initial step would be that commission members review the current plan, and then come to the next scheduled meeting and ask questions.

It was noted that some portions of the Cherry county development plan have — since the original plan was issued many years ago — have been superseded by state of Nebraska regulations. This pertains notably to feed lots and hog confinement facilities, according to the comments made at the Tuesday afternoon meeting. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality now addresses these issues, and have recently undertaken a regulatory action north of Valentine.

It was conveyed during discussions at the meeting, that the update may require that only a few pages at a time be closely considered.

A request to have comprehensive development plans for adjacent counties was met with comments that they could be reviewed online. The request was to have plans available for review at the zoning administrator’s office. Thus any comprehensive plans will have to be reviewed via personal effort, perhaps via online access.

An initial consideration of the “plan” will first occur during a meeting scheduled for September 6th.

It was noted that the review and update of the county plan will likely require many months. Also mentioned was that the Planning and Zoning Commission should, as a result, have monthly meetings instead of their quarterly meetings.

Any “official” changes to the development plan would require public hearings, with a public notice needing to be issued for any date(s) that would be indicated.

The issued county development plan indicates that there will be an annual review of the document, which will include public input. Minutes for the planning commission indicate that this review has not occurred for the past many years.

One of the first items considered by the commission at this meeting were letters from county residents Carolyn Semin and Sherri Bacon. They expressed their thanks to commission members and the zoning administrator Joel Mundorf for activities and how the recent public hearing was conducted on the conditional use permit request to place a wind turbine facility near Kilgore.

At the meeting, an eight-page transcript for the public hearing on July 19 at Valentine High School Auditorium for conditional use permit 01-16 as prepared by secretary of the commission, Lynell Stillwell, was considered. There was one change made in regards to a Gary Swanson statement about how people should refer to regulatory agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission regarding wetland and wildlife issues.

These minutes were approved, with this one requested revision.

The minutes provide multiple pages of details for the meeting, including a summary of each of the comments made, including submitted letters as read.

The duration of the meeting was less than one hour. Jim Buer was the “chairman” as there was a discussion regarding how the county commissioners will select someone that will be a volunteer member since there was an obvious spoken resignation at the last meeting of the commission at the county building on July 19th.

Public participation is a key aspect as this county plan is updated. A letter to the editor in the August 3 issue of the Valentine Midland News conveys this perspective.

At the July 26 meeting of the Board of Commissioners, some names were mentioned in consideration as a new member of the planning and zoning commissioner. There was no decision made with further evaluation to occur.

One of the names suggested by a commissioner, is a business partner in the winery at Nenzel, according to comments made by property owners in the vicinity. These ranchers stated that the person mentioned would not be acceptable.

Other names mentioned at the commissioners meeting were from southern Cherry county, northward of Mullen. The commissioners asked that any candidates from the public should be submitted.

There is no information available on the qualifications needed to be selected as a new member of the planning commission. Based upon attendance at multiple board of commissioners meetings, it is seemingly based upon personal perspectives?