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Farmers in Saunders County up in arms over controversial development vote

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 9:40 PM CDT
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SAUNDERS COUNTY, Neb. (WOWT) - Controversial developments aren’t just a city issue. In rural Saunders County, a planned acreage subdivision has farmers up in arms.

Today, the developer went before the county board for permission to move ahead.

Farm neighbors have loudly voiced opposition to Whispering Ridge where 28 acreage homes will build all digging wells.

Neighbor Teresa Gutzwiller said, “If a bunch of them go up before we leave this place or are six feet down, we might be out of water.”

The concern isn’t just about enough drinking and irrigation water to go around but also for fighting fires. Mead’s department wants the developer to provide a 500 gallon a minute well with a concrete drive and pumphouse.

Developer’s Attorney Javon Lausterer said, “It seems overreaching and it seems very irregular at my client’s sole cost and my client’s sole responsibility.”

In a hearing moved to the county fair building for room one supporters and several opponents of Whispering Ridge spoke up.

Realtor Bill Black said, “It’s going to be a good subdivision and they’ll be good neighbors.

Opponent Vicki Wollen said, “These developers just don’t want to give answers, they want to shortcut everything.”

In a resolution to approve the subdivision, the Saunders County Board demands the developer provide a fire suppression well, engineers street, and a drainage plan.

County Clerk said, “Four in favor three against motion is carried.”

The development partnership says construction could start within two years.

Development Partner Abram Marshall said, “It’s bittersweet. I don’t like to see other people disappointed at the same time we see progression moving so to me it’s good news, to other people not so much.”

So 28 acreage estates will be built with conditions set out by the county board. Opponents of Whispering Ridge say they’ll continue to speak out against the development.

Neighbor Gary Zicafoose said, “No it’s not acceptable at all, nothing has changed and we’re still going to fight it so.”

Huddling after the board meeting, concerned neighbors won’t say how that will play out.

A member of the Mead Fire District is concerned the developer mentioned a fire suppression well in Leshara three miles from Whispering Ridge. But he says a water supply in the subdivision would protect the homes better for when they are built.

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