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County board approves new zoning permit
August 01, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
It took almost an hour of discussion, but Scotts Bluff County Commissioners approved a required zoning permit for construction of non-dwelling structures of more than 200 square feet.
Bill Mabin, the county’s building and zoning director, proposed the permit process several weeks ago and it was approved by the planning commission.

Originally, the permit carried a $100 fee for the county to come out and inspect the potential building site. The inspection would be to make sure all regulations are met, including setbacks and right-of-way, and also federal regulations such as building in a flood plain and airport protection zones.

At the board’s July 15 meeting, the proposal met with opposition from some area ag producers who claimed it was just one more regulation where they’re already over-regulated. They also objected to the $100 fee as just another way for the county to generate dollars.
At that time, the county board was unable to reach a decision, although the proposal was introduced with both a $100 fee and no fee.

“I’ve met with several people and haven’t found any opposition,” said Commissioner Ken Meyer during Monday’s meeting. “They were concerned about adding more regulations, but this proposal doesn’t add any. The rules are already there.”

Meyer emphasized that according to state law, counties cannot dictate how ag buildings can be built and that the new zoning regulation would only require checking for building placement.
Commissioner Sherry Blaha said that if building rules are already in place, why penalize people with a $100 fee for following those rules.

Commissioner Steve Stratton said he has received calls from people who said they feel overburdened and don’t want any new regulations. “They’re not opposed to doing things right,” he said. “They just don’t want to be told how to do things right.”

Commissioner Mike Marker, who supports the proposal, said the complexion of the rural parts of the county has changed over the past 20 years. The population of farmers and ranchers has been shrinking as more former city people are moving to the country. And some of them don’t have a clue regarding regulations over irrigation right-of-way and other restrictions.

Meyer finally made a motion to pass the new proposal with no fee attached. It passed on a 3-2 vote. However, it’s unknown how that will affect the building and zoning budget, because a portion of the fees would cover their expenses for the inspections.

In other action, the county board heard from District 12 Chief Probation Officer Linda Buehler. She discussed how the district would handle the provisions of recently passed LB 561, which outlines how the state will address juvenile services.

The area served by District 12 Probation includes Scotts Bluff, Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Dawes, Garden, Grant, Deuel, Garden, Sioux, Kimball, Sheridan and Morrill Counties.

Buehler said the group is applying for a grant to add more staff and office space to address the increasing need for juvenile services. The approximate $53,000 grant would include $38,000 in state support with a local match of $15,000.

Commissioners approved submitting the grant application, which has an Aug. 5 deadline.
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