Gravel a recurring county concern


Tonia Copeland

One Kimball County gravel mining operation. Commissioners are considering zoning changes that may effect gravel mining in the county.

Dave Hottell, County Road Superintendent, voiced his concerns about roads frequently traveled by the Air Force during the March 7 Kimball County Commissioner's meeting.

In the past, the Nebraska Department of Roads was in charge of how and when the roads were repaired and they did a good job, according to Hottell. Now it is handled by the Federal Highway Administration and he has some concerns.

Hottell recently received a report that named roads were scheduled for additional gravel this year and estimated they would be spending approximately $100,000 a mile in gravel.

Hottell said, "Those roads absolutely do not need gravel, that gravel is going to do more damage."

He gave County Road 52 as an example; Board Chair Larry Engstrom and Hottell estimated that Road 52 had been graveled two or three years ago and that the ditches were still filled with the extra gravel that had been kicked off from last time.

Hottell stated that although the Air Force put a lot of money into Kimball County, that money may be better spent on different roads.

Currently, he said, FHA is adding gravel to roads that do not need it, yet they are not doing anything at all for the paved roads that they are damaging.

According to Hottell, it's nice gravel, but there isn't enough binder in it so it is loose. The road department then has to grade it off so that the public can drive on it safely without possibility of wrecking.

"In my opinion is a huge waste of a lot of money," Hottell said.

Hottell was asked to make contact with a representative to address the concerns, and Engstrom offered to take the road representative around to show them what is and is not working in the county.

The next item on the morning's agenda was a public hearing to receive comments for or against the proposed Amendments to the Kimball County Zoning Regulation text that was suggested during the February board meeting.

Sheila Newell, County Zoning Administrator, had presented the changes as suggested by the Planning Commission to the commissioners.

Several residents voiced their opposition, including Doug Kelley, who began with his opposition of the text that "specifically excludes the use of borrow pits for anything other than personal use."

Newell responded that these proposed changes would not effect anything done in the past and that all current borrow pits on private land would be grandfathered in and not be held to the same restrictions as new ones going forward.

Travis Freeburg spoke for his family, saying that they owned a large holding of land in Kimball County and that with what the current economy is in the county, these restrictions were detrimental to him and his family.

He said that even with their current borrow pits being grandfathered in, it still was a "government overreach" because they have other properties from which they may want to sell gravel in the future and these amendments would prevent them from making a living off their own lands.

Freeburg said he considers these amendments to be job killers and economic busters and that the board would be better off to consider more of what the general population wants.

According to Jeff Marks, who stated that he has worked on the Interstate for more than fifteen years, he has never seen an issue where he had to get a permit to use a borrow source before now. Marks now believes that these amendments would make it terribly difficult for everyone.

Val Deane Snyder, former Kimball County Commissioner, asked the board to consider dropping zoning and the planning commission all together as he believes it is chasing business away from Kimball County.

He implored the board to listen to your local people, not those who live on the other side of the state.

After several more minutes of public comments, both Commissioners Engstrom and Tim Nolting asked those in attendance what amendments needed to be readdressed and which clarifications or changes would they like to see. As the board discussed the issues at hand, they agreed to table the amendments and moved to set a special meeting with the Planning Commission at 7 p.m. on March 20 at the 4-H building.

Also before the board:

Gail Dunkle, Village of Dix Board chairperson requested a waiver of Sheriff's service fees regarding the village clean-up project. The Board denied Dunkle's request due to legalities.

Christy Warner, the County Human Resources Advisor and Transit Service Administrator requested new desks for her office. Warner's request was tabled until the second floor of the annex is fully remodeled.


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