WAHOO — The Saunders County Board of Adjustments has been short two members for close to a year, and applications have been hard to come by, says Saunders County Planning and Zoning Administrator Mitch Polacek.
“We’ve struggled to fill the Board of Adjustment for years,” Polacek said at the Saunders County Board of Supervisors’ April 4 meeting.
The board needs at least four members to constitute a quorum, and it needs five members to form a full board. Ideally, the board would have one more member as an alternate, Polacek said.
The Board of Adjustment’s primary role is to deny or approve zoning regulation appeals and zoning variance requests, which Polacek said are generally related to property line setback exceptions. Four ‘yes’ votes are required by the board to approve variance requests.
But there are just three members currently — John Trutna, Jason Gabel and Joann Simanek — meaning the board can not approve any action items. Polacek said he and the members of his office have advertised the open seats for months.
People are also reading…
Polacek, however, appeared before the board last Tuesday to discuss the possible appointment of two new applicants for the board’s open seats. The supervisors elected to table the appointments to a later meeting to leave open the possibility of further applications coming in, as supervisors John Zaugg and Bill Reece said they know people in their districts who might be interested in applying. One more application has been submitted since the April 4 meeting, Polacek said in a phone call.
Even with a full board, Polacek said the Board of Adjustment meets, at most, three times each year. Members receive $15 per meeting plus mileage reimbursement. Those interested in applying can inquire to Polacek at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the office at 402-443-8136.
Board approves $980,000 bridge replacement
Also at the April 4 meeting, the county board selected a bid from Iowa-based Dixon Construction to replace a single-lane bridge near county roads 19 and L with a new concrete slab bridge.
County Highway Superintendent Andy Nordstrom said the current bridge has low tonnage due to a vehicle crash.
“People are still using it, but it’s just low tonnage,” Nordstrom said. “Because if one member of that bridge fails, the whole thing could fall and collapse.”
More than 100 cars travel the bridge daily, Nordstrom said.
Dixon’s bid total is $980,932.47 and will be paid for using the county’s allocation from the state-funded Road and Bridge Buyback program. The board also received bids from K2 Construction, JJK Construction of Ceresco and Simon Contractors of North Platte.
Construction on the new bridge is expected to begin on Aug. 7 and is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 15.
County’s application for federal funding recommended to House subcommittee
In mid-March, board member Reece applied for federal funding that would help the county defray some of its costs as it installs a new 911 emergency radio system. If awarded to the county, the funds would pay for the mobile and portable radios that were estimated to cost $2.35 million all together.
Previously, the board’s plan was to pay for the radios up front, and the county’s local fire and law enforcement departments would pay the county back.
Reece, with help from the Southeast Nebraska Development District, applied for $2.3 million. The application first was considered by Rep. Don Bacon’s office and then was sent on to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee for further consideration.
“We’re at the mercy of the chair of that subcommittee,” Reece said.
He said there is no timetable dictating when a decision will be made on the county’s application.