Future Land Use Plan



In any planning area, be it a large urban area which is expanding in population or a small rural county which is declining in population,  there will be changes in land uses through time.  The purpose of a Future Land Use Plan is to provide a general guide for these changes in land use so that the resulting land uses can coexist with a minimum number of conflicts.  A Future Land Use Plan for any planning area must reflect the land uses which already exist and must be considered flexible in nature in order to meet the changing needs of its citizens and to encourage expansion of the local economy whenever possible. 


A Future Land Use Plan also provides the legal basis for the formulation of land use (zoning) regulations and the application of zoning districts.  For this reason it is imperative to formulate a Future Land Use Plan that is tailored to the needs,  desires and environmental limitations of each planning area. 


In order to accomplish these purposes,  the Future Land Use Plan for Red Willow County is based upon the land uses already existing in the rural areas of the County and the citizen’s desire and need to protect these land uses,  the environment,  local property values and their lifestyles and customs while,  at the same time,  promoting improvements in all components of the local economy with particular emphasis on agricultural growth,  as the predominant component of the local economy.  The following principles and concepts have thus been selected to guide the development of the Red Willow County Future Land Use Plan:


Principles and Concepts of the Red Willow County, Nebraska Future Land Use Plan

·  Private ownership of land is essential to the freedom of individuals,  families and communities and to the

    economic interest of the citizens of the County.


·  Existing agricultural uses,  methods of agricultural production,  property values and the lifestyle and

quality of life of the citizens of the County should be protected and preserved while allowing for changes in methods and scale of agricultural production in a manner and in locations which will not be incompatible with such existing uses,  which will not damage the environment,  which will not negatively impact the infrastructure of the County and which will not negatively impact property values or the quality of life in the rural areas of the County.


·  Land use regulations,  which are to be used to implement this Future Land Use Plan,  should be

    minimized to preserve the freedoms and property rights enjoyed by the citizens of the County while

    effectively addressing the needs to basic protection of the existing land uses,  property values,  the local


    environment and quality of life from development of future land uses which would be inconsistent with

    these needs.


Land Use Component Concepts

Agricultural Uses: In order to abide by the principles and general land use planning concepts presented above,  the future land uses in the unincorporated areas of Red Willow County should continue to be dominated by agricultural production.


The use of land for crop production should be encouraged as a means of strengthening the local economy,  but such development should be limited to those soil types which have crop production capacities.


Residential uses associated with such agricultural production uses should continue to be supported as accessory uses to such agricultural production through continuation in improvements in roadway systems and public and quasi-public facilities and services. 


Agricultural uses, including livestock production, should be encouraged in the rural areas of the County.  Confined livestock feeding uses and associated waste handling facilities should be carefully sited with regard to neighboring land uses and such uses should avoid locations near municipalities within the County or near the Republican River and major creeks within the County to avoid the potential for contamination of surface and groundwater.


River and wetland protection and maintenance are critical to protecting and preserving the wildlife and water quality in the County.  Confined livestock feeding and development of other commercial or industrial uses in these environmentally sensitive areas should be closely monitored,  if not prohibited in these areas,  to substantially decrease the potential risk of contaminating surface water and these wetland areas. 


Non-Agricultural Residential Uses: Development of residential uses,  not associated with farmstead operations,  should be permitted as a method of encouraging economic and population growth and to provide expanded choices for existing and future citizens regarding where they may wish to live.


Non-agricultural rural residential uses can be developed either as individual housing sites or as residential subdivisions.  Such development,  when and if proposed,  should be weighed against environmental limitations,  potential loss of prime crop land areas,  marketability and conflicts with existing agricultural land livestock production uses.  Such uses,  whether they occur as individual housing sites or as  residential

subdivisions,  should generally be limited to locations on or near one of the major highways within the County or along the County road corridors which are in close proximity to the urban areas within the County.


It is important to note that if municipal zoning,  as well as,  jurisdictional zoning is adopted and enforced by the communities,  such decisions shall be dealt with by the community itself.  In the instances where such communities do not enforce zoning,  or have zoning but choose not to utilize their extraterritorial jurisdiction authority,  decisions regarding land use shall be made by County Officials in areas up to the corporate limits of such urban area.


This land use policy will avoid the need for unnecessary demands for expansion of the County road and services infrastructure while enhancing the populations and local economies of the urban areas within the County.  An exception to this location limitation would be the potential for development of non-agricultural housing around scenic areas in the County and along the Republican River where major roadway access already exists. 


Commercial and Industrial Uses: Future additional commercial and industrial uses,  not desiring a location within or near the urban areas of the County,  should be encouraged to locate in the rural portions of the County,  but siting of these types of uses should be carefully considered.  Those uses which would generate or attract substantial amounts of vehicular traffic, particularly heavy truck traffic,  should be encouraged to locate along the major highway corridors in the County as opposed to more rural locations which would require extensive use and higher maintenance levels on County roads. 


Recreational Development: Future recreational use within throughout the County should be not only encouraged,  but actively pursued.  Although there are State owned and operated wildlife management areas within the County,  it is important to add to these existing recreational areas to increase the overall “image” of the County and,  as a result,  work to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of the County and to increase the potential for tourists within the County. 


Development of,  as well as,  improvements upon the recreational areas within the County should be an active land use goal throughout the planning period.  Future development of recreational uses should take into consideration the need for proper access to such areas,  as well as,  proper advertisement to ensure such areas are utilized frequently.


The Future Land Use Plan

Based upon the above noted land use concepts,  the Future Land Use Plan for Red Willow County,  Nebraska,  envisions three primary land use categories for the expansion or future development of various land uses.  As described below,  these land use areas are:


§         Preservation of the majority of the land in the unincorporated areas of the County for farming which is now exercised,  and typical throughout the County.


§         Delineation of land near the urban areas of the County as transitional agricultural areas which would encourage continued agricultural and commercial activities,  but which would also serve to protect the communities and its citizens from development of land uses in close proximity which would be incompatible with this area.


§         Delineation of land near the Republican River,  which has fair to good fish production capacity as a surface water protection area.  This area would encourage continued agricultural activities,  but would serve to limit development of agri-business uses and other uses which may have the potential for contamination of these waters.  In addition,  recreational improvements or future construction of recreational uses in this area should be actively encouraged. 


The basic premise for this Plan is the preservation and protection of existing land uses and environment in the County,  including the protection of the urban areas,  while encouraging economic expansion in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors of the local economy through development of new or expanded land uses which are compatible with existing uses;  are environmentally acceptable;  and which respect and support quality of life of the citizens of Red Willow County. 


General Agricultural Use  -  As depicted on Figure 13,  the plan for the majority of land in the rural portions of the County is that of continuation of,  protection for and enhancement of general production agriculture represented by the farm activities that now exist in the area. 


As stated in the Environment, Natural and Man-Made Resources component of this Comprehensive Plan,  there are many areas within Red Willow County where the characteristics of the geology,  hydrology,  topography and soils are more sensitive to high intensity uses such as confined feeding of livestock and where contamination of the local environment could occur even with good quality livestock management practices.  The best way of avoiding environmental degradation problems is to carefully monitor the development of uses which present such potential problems. 


In Red Willow County there is limited areas which are reasonable suited to confined livestock feeding uses because the concentrations of livestock waste and / or the establishment of livestock waste holding basins or lagoons could result in environmental contamination.  The use of land for open lot feeding of cattle also has the potential for environmental degradation due to wind and water erosion of soils in the lots,  unless effectively controlled.  Application of the manure to crop land should also be carefully managed to avoid potentials of both surface water and groundwater contamination. 


Transitional Development  -  Throughout the planning period there will be additional non-farm residential uses and additional commercial uses which may be added to the land use pattern in the County.  These non-agricultural uses can be best situated in the transitional area around the urban areas of the County so that the occupants of these uses can have easy access to the goods and services provided within the communities and so that the public services such as fire protection,  police protection and rescue service can be provided at minimum expense.


As noted in this Future Land Use Plan,   the urban areas within the County should be protected from development of uses which could be incompatible with urban land uses in the community through delineation of a transitional use area which relates to prevailing wind directions thus extending from one mile (east-west) and two miles (north-south) beyond the corporate limits of the urban areas. 


River Corridor Protection Area  -  As noted on Figure 13,  select areas within the County have been set aside for the purposes of surface water protection.  The Republican River is an asset to the County and has thus been identified as a surface water protection area. This River is the predominant surface water source within the County and is the most predominant,  scenic and aesthetic environmental feature within the County.  Degradation of this area;  through either improper land use development,  uncontrolled chemical applications to nearby crop land areas,  unmonitored livestock production in close proximity in a corridor approximately ¼ mile on each side of the River;  should be avoided.  This will require adherence to the regulations established for this area,  as well as,  cooperation between the citizens of the County to keep the area free of contamination and other potential hazards. 


It is important to note that many of the smaller waterways within the County serve to be tributaries of the Republican River.  Therefore,  careful consideration in maintaining these smaller waterways must occur. Development of larger livestock feeding facilities and related agri-business operations in areas of these smaller creeks must be closely monitored to assure that environmental degradation does not occur.  Non-agricultural development with potentials for environmental degradation should also be closely monitored within the rural portions of the County,  especially near the many local waterways. 


Future Land Use Summary

Utilization of these future land use areas as a guide to future land development in the County will result in protection of the existing land uses in the rural areas,  as well as,  protection for the community citizens in and around the urban areas of the County.  Adherence to the land use areas depicted on the Future Land Use Plan will also assist the County in avoiding development of land uses in areas where it is not environmentally sound to do so and adherence to the concept of limiting the impact on the public infrastructure in the County,  particularly the impact on the County road system,  will assist in preserving the financial capacity of the County for years to come. 


It is important to note that the Future Land Use Plan represents a generalized “County-wide” view of where future development should be.  It is important to utilize the graphic information provided in the Environment, Natural and Man-Made Resources component of this Comprehensive Development Plan (Figure 8 through 11)  in conjunction with this Future Land Use Plan to properly locate future land uses.  Further,  in many instances the need for on-site investigation will be necessary,  especially when larger land use developments are scheduled for the rural areas of the County.