A conditional use permit request to refurbish abandoned lagoons was denied Tuesday by Hall County Board of Commissioners, pending a finding of facts.
Commissioners voted 5-2 to deny the request, with Commissioners Scott Sorensen and Karen Bredthauer voting against the motion.
A resolution on the permit request will be brought before the board on Dec. 6.
A public hearing was held on Nov. 8 for the conditional use permit request from MidAmerica Washout that raised concerns from the community.
The company based in Dodge City, Kansas, aims to use lagoons formerly owned by Bosselman Enterprises at 4009 Wood River West in Grand Island for a livestock trailer wash operation.
The permit request is only for use of the lagoons, which would be refurbished.
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MidAmerica plans to build a new facility in the area, which is already zoned for that use.
A similar conditional use permit request from MidAmerica was rejected by Grand Island City Council on July 12, as reported by The Independent.
Butch Hurst read an email sent to the commissioners by City Council Member Mike Paulick on the request, which had come before the city in July.
“We were in full agreement that it was not a business we wanted located next to a sports complex, a major state campground, the travel center and, the biggest factor, that it’s right along the Platte River and located above the underground water that flows through the Grand Island well fields,” said Hurst, reading the email.
Hall County residents who live near the site protested the fallibility of the lagoon liners and the potentiality of contaminating nearby water wells.
Dave Hoffman, a Doniphan farmer, spoke against approving the request, arguing it could lead to environmental damages and could contaminate local water wells.
“Where are you going to place your wells once that’s contaminated?” he asked.
Hoffman described the site as “a horrible location” for the business.
“One of the conditions, for the people who vote for this, they should be required to drink the water out of the nearest well every time you’re at one of these meetings,” he said.
Jolene Bockmann of Grand Island protested the use of the location, and not the business, she said, noting that Bosselman’s “did not foresee” the lagoons causing damage to the area.
Bockmann worried MidAmerica would not be held accountable for any further damages.
“I’m not going to ignore the fact that these permits are made for show,” she said. “I don’t want to point fingers at this board, but you guys had no idea what was happening out there and you were approving a conditional use permit. You can put conditions on this.”
Bockmann added that while she is sure MidAmerica owner Chad Ruda does not intend to cause a contamination, it does happen.
“It already happened. Are we learning from our mistakes, or are we going to make the same mistake again?” she asked. “It’s the wrong location. That’s all we’re talking about.”
Pat O’Hara asserted that while he supports Ruda bringing a business to Grand Island, he is against it being located at that site.
He asked why the commissioners were considering it after the city had rejected it.
“We ought to be looking at what the city’s talking about,” said O’Hara. “They have a lot of good points, the No. 1 point being that the wellfield to the east of there is the only water we have left in Grand Island that we can draw from, because everything west of here’s been contaminated with either solvent or RDX.”
He added, “Don’t say that ‘one-in-a-million’ don’t happen, because it’s happened twice already.”
Ruda pleaded for support for his endeavors.
“I don’t hold any ill will, I’m just trying to find a location,” he said. “All I ask is, for the people who are against me this time, if I do find a good location, please support it. I’m not trying to build in a bad spot.”
Audience members demanded from Ruda that, if the permit request fails this time, that he doesn’t pursue it again.
Ruda promised he would, saying, “I’m done.”