New housing development draws concerns for neighbors in Saunders County

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 10:29 PM CST
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WAHOO, Neb. (WOWT) - A proposed housing development is drawing concerns from neighbors.

This is an unusual dispute because its location is six miles or more from any city services. If developers get the county board approval, big homes will grow out on this farmland near Highway 64 in Saunders County.

The Gutzwillers live across the road from the 28 proposed three acre lots and all will need a well that draws water from the same source.

Neighbor Teresa Gutzwiller said, “If a bunch of them go up before we leave this place, or six-foot down, we might be out of water. What do we do then, go to them and ask if they can loan us?”

For nearly a half-century, this well has served the couple no win. It’s 92 feet deep but they worry if those expensive homes are built across the way, they’ll have to go deeper if they can hit the water at all.

The developer’s well report states the land is good for finding water but with a dozen pivots nearby, farmers worry about enough to go around.

Farmer Gary Zicafoose said, “We take our aquifer for granted but don’t really know if it’s going to support everything thing and if it doesn’t and the irrigations wells draw the house wells down, they get priority.”

The attorney for Whispering Ridge Estate, LLC sent a statement that the developers have gone above and beyond what the county typically requires for residential projects. That includes a letter of understanding from the Mead Fire Protection but a fire board member says he’s not ready.

Mead Fire board member Scott Cernin said, “If the county allows it and we cannot provide the fire protection as needed because of a lack of water, who is that going to fall on?”

The developer’s attorney says opponents have focused on blocking the project rather than giving suggestions for improving it but neighbors argue a subdivision in the middle of the farmland is not a good fit.

A neighbor said, “Pretty much the middle of nowhere to me. Don’t tell anyone though.”

Before voting the developer’s application, the Saunders County Board will hold a hearing on Whispering Ridge Estates, which could be loud and wrong.

The Saunders County Planning Commission denied an application for the development but that’s only a recommendation. The county board has the final say and they will set a hearing date tomorrow.

Neighbors hope it will at night so more people can attend.

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