Commissioners approve updating County Comprehensive Zoning Plan

PIERCE — The Pierce County Board of Commissioners have authorized Pierce County Zoning Administrator Heather McWhorter to move forward with updating the Pierce County Comprehensive Plan.

McWhorter told the Board at its August 10, meeting it was recommended the comprehensive plan be updated every 15 years. She said the Pierce County plan was last updated in 2003.

McWhorter said she was working with Pierce County Economic Development Director Susan Norris to find a grant to pay for the majority of the cost, but estimated it at $30,000.

McWhorter said the comprehensive plan is the foundation for county zoning regulations. It contains the current state of land use, how you want your county laid out, where you will allow commercial, agricultural, and ag intensive land.

It also contains soils and topography information, what zoning is allowed in each district in the county (commercial, residential, ag) and the direction of future land development for the county.

Norris said a plan is important for economic development and aids in the grant application process.

Norris said they have been working with Lowell Schroeder, a community planner with the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District, to locate firms that complete comprehensive plans.

Bids for the project will be solicited. The list would then be narrowed down to the top five choices for interviews and presentations.

Once a consultant is hired, the County Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners will become involved in the update process.

The consultant gathers and analyzes data, examines the past plan, and studies current conditions and existing land use.

Working With Madison County In developments since the Pierce Board of Commissioners meeting on August 10, McWhorter, who also serves as the Madison County Zoning Administrator, said PCED Director Norris had became aware of a USDA grant that could pay for up to 85 percent of the study.

McWhorter said a consultant, Madison County had contacted, suggested Madison County and Pierce County could work together in applying for the grant, splitting the 15 percent portion of the study the grant does not cover.

The consultant estimated the cost at $100,000. If the grant was approved, it would cover $85,000 and each county would be liable for half of the remaining 15 percent, or $7,500.

The grant would cover the comprehensive plans, but the plans would also be required to include additional information, a strategic plan, and jobs, housing, and broadband studies.

The Madison Board agreed at its September 1, meeting to work with Pierce County and apply for the grant.

McWhorter said the grant application deadline is September 10, and it may be another month before they hear if it is approved, and for how much.

She said if the grant is not approved, the county will have to find another way to pay for updating the comprehensive plan.

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