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Commissioners approve zoning regulation amendments focused on Johnson Lake
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Commissioners approve zoning regulation amendments focused on Johnson Lake

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Commissioners approve zoning regulation amendments focused on Johnson Lake

LEXINGTON — Properties and lots at Johnson Lake were the main focus of the zoning regulations amendments the Dawson County commissioners approved on Thursday.

Zoning Administrator Pam Holbrook presented the amendments to the zoning regulations to the commissioners during their meeting on Thursday, Oct. 15. The changes would primarily affect properties at Johnson Lake.

Holbrook said the amendments were part of a three year process in the making. Originally, there were little regulations surrounding Johnson Lake, which is unincorporated. Three years ago the commissioners approved stringent regulations, which some of the residents at the lake found burdensome and too restrictive.

The new amendments reflect changes which had been discussed by lake residents and the Dawson County planning commission and a list of amendments were worked up which should prove less restrictive.

Some of the notable changes include allowing recreational vessel sales, rentals to now be allowable through a conditional use permit. This was not in place before, Holbrook said. Recreational water vessels were also clearly defined as, “a water vessel operated by sales, lease, rental or chartering. Example: boats, jet skis, kayaks, canoes, etc.”

Recreational storage, as well as, commercial automobile service storage, trailer, RV and boat storage were made allowable by conditional use permit. Equipment rental, repair services and storage were also allowed by conditional use permit.

One of the amendments changed the rear-yard set-back to 10 feet from the road edge, instead of 20 feet and changed the front to 22 feet. This allows homeowners more room when building structures on the property.

A primary structure and principal structure was also clearly defined as, “the building or structure in which the principal use of the lot on which the building or structure is located is conducted.” Holbrook said in zoning, everything needs a definition.

This definition plays into another amendment stating, “No accessory structure shall be constructed prior to the construction of the primary structure.”

There were also certain sections removed which pertained to front yards, rear and side yards and open screen porches.

Several Johnson Lake residents were in attendance at the meeting, one said they were impressed with the planning commission’s effort on these issue and their knowledge of the regulations.

A resident of Lakeview Acres commented on the ability to build in the tier two section of the area. Holbrook said this tier two area is a, “hotspot,” at the lake. Lakeview Acres consists of a tier one, which are the homes along the water front and the second tier, which contains the rest of the area.

Tier two in the area is mostly used for storage, and it can prove challenging for those who wish to build a residence as there is no community well. Holbrook said the State of Nebraska allows for a private well and community well to be built in the area.

She did note the Lakeview Acres tier two homeowners association had dissolved and this created difficulties in trying to build a community well in the area.

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Chairmen Dennis Rickertsen said at times there has been, “contention,” surrounding a difference of opinion held by residents of Johnson Lake, due to the high amount of use the area sees.

The commissioners cited the approval of the amendments by the planning commission and approved the changes themselves.

A conditional use permit to allow commercial storage of vehicles, RVs, boat storage, etc., was made by Michelle Canella for a 1.75 acre track north east of Johnson Lake.

Attorney Tod McKeone, representing Canella, was present at the meeting and reiterated the details of what is being planned and noted the planning commission had approved the permit.

Holbrook noted storage is an issue at Johnson Lake, but residents don’t want large storage units near residences, so the county created this buffer zone around the lake for these types of storage units, which the county will likely be seeing more permits for in the future.

The permit was approved by the commissioners.

Another item dealing with zoning was the implementing of re-platting procedures for lots of record. The intent of the new procedures is to provide for lot splits, combinations, re-plats or boundary adjustments of existing lots within a grandfathered subdivision.

These new procedures would allow the owner of these grandfathered lots to make changes, as well as, simplifying the process on the courthouse side. Holbrook said.

It was noted for these changes to be made, permission needs to be gained from all property owners involved, the county surveyor, Register of Deeds office, treasurer and zoning administrator.

It was also added to the procedures to deny the plat if a lien had been placed on the property or back taxes had not been paid.

The commissioners approved the new re-platting procedures.

During public comments, Barb Batie, speaking for the media pool that covered the Bailey Boswell trial, expressed their gratitude with the staff of the Dawson County courthouse, as well as the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office for their efforts all 15 days the trail proceedings were ongoing.

Sheriff Ken Moody, presenting the monthly crime report, digressed to thank his staff for their work during the trial, stating they had no problems and things went smoothly. He said staff from Saline County was good to work with.

Continuing with the report, Moody said federal inmate numbers were down, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the average daily population of the jail had jumped up to 103 in September, mainly due to local inmates.

Moody said so far the virus has been kept out of the jail, as well as, the courthouse. The commissioners chose to forgo a jail inspection, citing virus concerns.

During the board of equalization meeting the commissioners approved a tax correction on a parcel owned by Bryan Rosacker. Assessor John Moore said a mobile home had been removed from the lot, causing the need for the correction.

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