MADISON — For the second time this summer, the Madison County board of commissioners is considering closing part of a minimum-maintenance road in the southern part of the county.
The Madison County board of commissioners conducted about a 40-minute public hearing on a proposal to close a portion of 829th Road between 549th Avenue and 550th Avenue.
Ron Schmidt, who is the county board chairman, owns land next to some of that stretch of land and declared a conflict of interest.
As a result, Troy Uhlir, the vice chairman, was voted by the board to serve as the chairman and lead the public hearing.
State law does not permit action to be taken on road closures on the same day as the public hearing.
The portion of 829th Road between 549th Avenue and 550th Avenue that ultimately was considered last time was the western 1,320 feet of it. At that time, it was discovered that not enough time for notice of the public hearing was given to one of the nearby landowners, so commissioners voted to revisit the issue.
At Tuesday’s public hearing, the western portion that would be closed was extended another 400 feet to the east, so roughly one-third of the western portion of the mile road would be closed.
Among those speaking in favor was Scott Schmidt, who grew up in Madison County. Schmidt now resides in northeast Maryland with his wife and their six children.
Schmidt, who is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, said he supports the road closure and a turn-around point to the east of it to allow for the eventual construction of four poultry barns for Lincoln Premium Poultry. It would allow his family to return to Nebraska.
Schmidt said his family has worked on mitigation measures to limit the impact that the closure would have on those neighbors who use it. It has been a minimum-maintenance road for more than 75 years, he said.
The Schmidts would donate the land for the turn-around point to the east, with the county maintaining it, under details shared during the public hearing.
Three other people also spoke in favor of closure, including Willow Holoubek of David City, a representative of Lincoln Premium Poultry.
Holoubek said her company supports safety and young farmers coming back to their roots and heritage.
Among those speaking against was Mark Fitzgerald, a Norfolk attorney who represented Melvin and Mamie Klein and their daughters.
Fitzgerald said the Kleins own 160 acres, which includes most of the property on the north side of the minimum maintenance road. They raised their family along that road and oppose the abandonment for the usefulness of their ground, Fitzgerald said.
It would diminish the value of their property, making it more difficult to farm. Their farm includes prairie ground that has never been plowed, Fitzgerald said.
Melvin Klein said some of the tenants for his land have 12-row machinery, and it would be much more difficult for them to farm if the road is closed.
Barb Korth asked whether the chicken barns were the primary reason for the road being considered to be closed. She said the chicken barns should not be located there.
“Move it closer to their (Schmidt’s) place,” she said. “I don’t want it up there.”
Ron Schmidt said the turnaround is estimated to be up to 130 feet. It also would not affect an existing culvert, but if drainage becomes an issue, another culvert or culvert could be installed, he said.
Schmidt said the road closure would start at their property and go to the west, mainly impacting them, but he did acknowledge it would prevent traffic from going all the way east-west on the mile stretch of the minimum-maintenance road.
And the issue of chicken barns is unrelated to the road closure and should be considered a zoning issue, Schmidt said. It should not be part of the consideration of the road closure, he said.
Uhlir closed the public hearing and said a vote on whether to close the road could be taken in two weeks.
The Madison County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday.
Members present: Chairman Ron Schmidt, Troy Uhlir and Christian Ohl.
Others in attendance: Anne Pruss, county clerk; Richard Johnson, county highway superintendent; Heather McWhorter, planning and zoning administrator; Todd Volk, sheriff; Don Svitak, weed superintendent; 12 from the public and two reporters.
Meeting lasted: Three hours, 10 minutes, not including time as a board of equalization.
— Approved a five-year cylinder deposit agreement with Island Supply Welding Co. for oxygen and acetylene for Road District 1. There is no charge for it.
— Approved having zoning administrator Heather McWhorter contract with Hunter McWhorter and Noah McWhorter to assist flood-damaged inspections.
— Authorized the county board chairman to execute documents to conclude the sale of county-owned property at 130 S. Fourth St. to Gary and Pat Tillotson and set the closing date for Sept. 4.
— Set a public hearing date for Aug. 20 to receive input regarding the sale of county-owned property located south of Phillip Avenue between South Birch Street and South Hickory Street.
— Approved an agreement with Purple Wave Auction for sale of county-owned vehicles.
— Approved selection of Mainelli Wagner & Associates to provide engineering services for roadway and bridge projects using FEMA funding due to the March 2019 flood.
— Approved a professional service agreement with the Mainelli Wagner & Associates for the Battle Creek North project.
— Conducted a public hearing and approved the application of Ryan and Mashaela Wolken for the final plat for Wolken’s Subdivision, which doesn’t add any more houses but enables the Wolkens to split their property located at 55275 837th Road.
— Postponed update reports from Midtown Health Center representatives and the annual report from the Madison County Extension Office.
— Received a report of Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance activities from Judd Allen, a representative of Nebraska Association of County Officials.
— Discussed the latest work on the Elkhorn River Bridge repair on 858th Road between Sherwood Road and Grandview Road, as well as Old Hadar Road and other road projects.
— Took no action on a request to support True Nebraskans petition for property tax relief.
— Discussed and updated portions of the Madison County Employees Handbook.
— Reviewed the 2019-20 fiscal-year budget.
— Reviewed written reports and processed claims.