BEATRICE – Supporters and opponents of a proposed commercial anhydrous ammonia loading facility five miles west of Beatrice, got their say before the Gage County Board, Wednesday. A more than two-hour public hearing was held, with supporters of the project saying it meets county zoning regulations and is good for agriculture. Opponents say it’s the wrong location, near nine rural homes.
Mike Holtmeier is the applicant for the special use permit. The project would be located north of Ellis in an area zoned for agriculture. It would include up to two storage tanks in a loading facility for nurse tanks.
:26 “this area”
Most of the concern from area residents is for safety, in the event of a release of anhydrous ammonia. Holtmeier says such operations are tightly regulated by the Nebraska Fire Marshal’s Office. Several are located in the region, including inside the cities of Beatrice and Wymore. Still, residents with property near the proposed site, like Robert Jacobsen, say it creates a potential danger.
:21 “a half area”
Ron and Terri Mazza operate an organic farm near the proposed location. Ron Mazza says he’s concerned about possible water contamination.
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Supporters and opponents of the project differ over just how great the potential danger is. An attorney representing the project applicants, Rob Schafer, urged the county to rely on facts when considering the permit application.
:46 “that plant down”
The county’s planning commission recently voted 6-0 to recommend approval of the project, following a public hearing before the commission. Of those attending the county board public hearing Wednesday, there were 10 persons in support of the project, 21 in opposition and three took no position.
The Gage County board could act on the permit, as early as their March 1st meeting.