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Douglas County Board denies conditional use permit for diesel engine repair business

The Planning Advisory Committee made a recommendation to the board for the denial.

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DOUGLAS COUNTY — A conditional use permit that would allow a diesel engine repair and service business with outdoor storage in LaGrand Township was denied at the Tuesday, Oct. 18, Douglas County Board meeting.

However, the decision was not unanimous. Commissioners Charlie Meyer, Jerry Rapp and Keith Englund voted to deny the permit, while Tim Kalina and Heather Larson did not.

Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush brought the item forward from the Planning Advisory Commission meeting on Oct. 11. Conditional use permits always go through the Planning Advisory Commission first before they are brought forward to the County Board.

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Dave Rush

Rush told commissioners that the Planning Advisory Commission unanimously recommended the denial of the conditional use permit based on the findings of fact, which included the following:

The property use is not sufficiently compatible with adjacent properties and may impact home values and the enjoyable use of current developed properties.

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The proposed use is not consistent with the purpose of the zoning ordinance and land use district.

The proposed use has the potential to create traffic congestion.

Rush also noted that there were plenty of concerns from neighbors, who spoke at a public hearing about the proposed business. He said those concerns included noise, traffic and water quality, among others. He said there was a lengthy discussion about a pipeline spill more than 25 years ago, but that people were still concerned about water – both drinking and lake – as water from the area drains into Lake Mina.

But Rush noted that nobody has a well that is tied to that aquifer anymore so there shouldn’t be any concerns about drinking water.

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One of the commissioners asked Rush what his personal opinion on the matter was and was told that his personal opinion isn’t relative and that his staff at the Land and Resource Management office reported that many of the concerns could be mitigated with conditions that could be put in place.

The road, for example, is built to 10-ton capacity and although it is hilly, it is straight and could handle the traffic, he said.

Commissioner Rapp, although he voted to deny the permit, said that if limitations or conditions were put in place then the business could operate as long as they follow the rules. Commissioner Englund thought the land could be used for something else and that if it “rubbed everyone the wrong way, why do it?”

Commissioner Larson said it looked to her that it could be approved with conditions/rules that would help mitigate the concerns.

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Prior to the board denying the request, Rush informed them that they had a couple of options – deny it, approve it with conditions, remand it back to the Planning Advisory Commission or table it.

After some more discussion, Commissioner Meyer made the motion to deny the permit and Englund seconded it.

In other action

The board approved the following items:

  • Preliminary plat of Hertwig Point Second Addition. Three lots in Miltona Township are being rearranged into two lots.
  • Conditional use permit for Pak Rat Mini Storage LLC, which is seeking to expand.
  • Bid from Utopia Soils out of Ashby to process tree debris from the May storms. The county opened a tree and brush site drop-off near Forada after the storms, which collected about 27,716 cubic yards of debris. The material is now ready to be processed into mulch for future use. 
  • Disbursement of funds ($10,723) to West Central Initiative Foundation for a Douglas County Water Quality Legacy Fund project. This was a drainage channel erosion stabilization project on a gully that contributes sediment to Lake Ida. The channel was repaired and stabilized with rock and vegetation.
  • Local-option abatements for properties destroyed by the May tornadoes.
Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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