Judge’s Ruling Grants Permit for Anhydrous Operation in Gage County

BEATRICE – An agri-business has won its appeal of Gage County’s denial of a special use permit for an anhydrous ammonia operation.

District Judge Julie Smith ruled in favor of Holtmeier Brothers, Inc., which wants to build an anhydrous ammonia storage and loading operation in western Gage County.  Several nearby acreage owners had intervened in the case and were also named as defendants.

Judge Smith ruled that Holtmeier Brothers, Inc. permit is approved, and that the area where they want to establish the operation is zoned Agriculture-one.  She said that “individuals who choose to reside in an agricultural area can expect agricultural activities near their homes”.

The judge found that anhydrous ammonia storage is compatible with the intended use of the district and that the proposed special use permit would not be detrimental to adjacent property.  She also said that based on evidence, safeguards put in place by Holtmeier Brothers and by the Nebraska Fire Marshal’s Office are adequate and provide a reasonable assurance of safety, for neighbors and the general public.

The company’s application for a special use permit for an anhydrous operation about five miles west of Beatrice was recommended for approval by the Gage County Planning Commission, but then rejected by the county board, on a 3-4 vote.

Holtmeier Brothers had sought to develop the operation on land it owns along Southwest 117th Road.  A grain bin facility is already located at the site, and the expansion proposed two 30,000-gallon anhydrous storage tanks and more than 20 nurse tanks to sell and distribute anhydrous ammonia.

The county board indicated the operation would be dangerously close to residential homes, could cause harm or damage, and is not an appropriate location for the facility.

The county planning commission unanimously recommended approval of the special use permit, on January 12th of 2017.  The supervisors denied the permit, March 29th of last year.

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