Goals and Policies
Planning for future land uses of the County is an ongoing process of goal setting and problem solving. The focus of the process is to enhance communities and create a higher quality of life. Planning focuses on ways to solve existing problems within the County, and provides a management tool to help Red Willow County residents achieve a desired future vision.
Developing a future vision, or visioning, is a process of evaluating present conditions, identifying problem areas, and building a consensus among the County for how to overcome existing problems and manage change. This is a process that results in a picture of Red Willow County, as its residents would like to see it in the next twenty to fifty years. Then, by determining Red Willow County’s strengths and weaknesses, the County can develop a “roadmap” to get where it wants to be. This roadmap includes specific changes that must occur for the County to reach its future vision.
Change is a continuous process. Making a change in one aspect of a county will surely cause a change in another. Because of this dynamic feature of change, Red Willow County should develop specific benchmark criteria against which change can be measured and evaluated. There should be a common understanding among the County regarding the value of one change over another. Working from a pre-set series of benchmarks, the County as a whole can evaluate change, and its affects, in a shared manner. This shared evaluation can help keep the process of change moving towards the shared vision, instead of moving against it.
This section of the Red Willow County Comprehensive Development Plan can help develop that future vision. Presented here are the goals and policies established very early in the process and have been used during the creation of this Plan. Policies can be further delineated into action statements used to guide, direct, and support decisions for future growth, development, and change. These action statements answer the question of “how” to plan and manage change in Red Willow County.
Goals are the wants, desires, and necessities of the County. These are items the residents want to accomplish to create their future. Goals should be developed in such a way that they can be accomplished. Goals play a part in developing policies around certain issues, such as managing growth, and land use districts. Goals should be rigid enough to withstand unforeseen changes, but flexible enough to adapt to new circumstances.
Policies are used to define and implement goals. Policies are specific statements of principle or action that imply a clear commitment, but they are not mandatory. Policies link goals with actions. There are three elements to a policy:
1. An end that needs to be achieved,
2. A means by which to achieve the end, and
3. An administrative mechanism by which the means are carried out.
Policies synthesize information. Policies are based upon responses from citizen participation during the Comprehensive Plan process. These responses help create principles to define actions taken to achieve a future vision.
Goals and policies assure the Plan will accomplish the desires of the residents of Red Willow County, by setting forth specific visions of the future, underlying principles guiding change, and support for principled decision-making. When these goals and policies are followed, future development proposals in the County will be evaluated according to their adherence to the established desires of the County. Therefore, goals and policies should be referred to diligently so that a rational, legitimate decision-making process based upon County values support County action.
This also means the goals and policies should be kept current and adapt to changing public desire. Goals and policies should be developed in a manner that allows for both short- and long-term accomplishments. Short-term goals and policies serve three main functions:
1. Allow for immediate feedback, which creates desire to achieve additional goals and stronger policies,
2. Allow for distribution of resources over time, thus assuring a balanced use of public investment, and
3. Establish certain policies that need to become building blocks for other, long-term policies.
An initial workshop for Red Willow County Planning Commissioners and Supervisors was conducted on April 30, 2001 at the Red Willow County Courthouse. The purpose of the meeting was to gather input (both positive and negative), on issues facing residents of the County. Participants were asked four basic questions:
1. What are negative aspects or weaknesses of Red Willow County?
2. What are positive aspects or strengths of Red Willow County?
3. What issues are facing Red Willow County that need to be acted upon?
4. What specific projects would you like to see completed in the next 5, 10 or 20 years?
After each question was posed, a brainstorming session followed. Participants were asked to generate as many ideas as possible. Once all of the lists were completed to the satisfaction of the participants, the participants were asked to rank the three entries from each list that were most important to them.
The point totals were tabulated and added to determine which issues were most important to the participants as a whole. The following tables display the results. Note the number of points for each question may differ as participants may have voted for less than three issues per question.
A number of planning and land use issues were generated through the workshop. A diverse range of topics was discussed and where possible these issues were grouped into similar categories to reduce duplication. A number of non land-use issues were also discussed, and while significant, do not directly impact the formulation of goals and objectives for the Comprehensive Plan. The following information summarizes the workshop findings and indicates the relative score and importance each issue was afforded.
Participants responded to this question with 16 entries. Seven entries did not receive points for ranking purposes. The response that received the most points was “Large Livestock Operations.” This issue was identified due to the concern over the negative perceptions that accompany livestock operations. Table 23 presents the responses, rank and total point value.
Source: Community Workshop, April 30, 2001.
This question generated 18 responses. Twelve responses did not receive points for ranking. The response that received the most points was “quality of life.” The perception that the factors, which contribute to quality of life exist in Red Willow County. Table 24 presents the responses, rank and total point value.
Source: Community Workshop, April 30, 2001.
There were 6 responses to this question; two did not receive points for ranking. The issues that participants were asked to think about were anything from past experiences to present concerns and specific problems that are or have been occurring within Red Willow County. Two issues came to the forefront of the discussion with a similar number of votes. These issues were “property taxes,” and “farm income.” The next closest issue, which received a number of points, was “job creation and retention.” Table 25 shows all of the responses, rank and total point value on issues facing Red Willow County.
Source: Community Workshop, April 30, 2001.
This question asked participants to focus on projects they believe should be completed during the planning period. These projects may be anything the participants want to see changed in the County. There were 5 responses to this question; 3 did not receive points for ranking. Table 26 lists the responses, rank and total point value.
Source: Community Workshop, April 30, 2001.
This exercise is an important factor in the creation of this Plan. The workshop allowed the public to have an opportunity to express specific concerns about the present and future conditions in their county. The data they presented was organized into general categories, then goals and policies were developed to guide the implementation of each category. As time and circumstances change, this Plan will need to be revised and updated. As goals are met and policies are fulfilled, new goals will need to replace the previous ones. Future workshops should be undertaken to gather information on how this Plan has worked for the residents of the County, and how it should be changed to address the issues of the day.
The goals and policies that have been generated for Red Willow County are organized into general categories. The categories are broad enough to allow many issues to fall within them, but narrow enough to allow a fairly clear distinction and separation. These categories are used for a logical organization of goals and policies. The categories are:
§ General Land Use
§ Residential Land Use
§ Agricultural Land Use
§ Environment and Natural Resources
§ Economic Development
§ Public Facilities and Taxes
§ Parks and Recreation
When considering the following goals and policies, it may become evident that they may conflict with one another. In such cases, these conflicts should be discussed and the relative importance of one policy be weighed against another to determine the best course of action.
This category is concerned with the overall management of the land in Red Willow County.
Create Zoning Regulations that implement components of the Comprehensive Development Plan.
Rural development should be allowed to occur on a limited scale. Rural development should be placed in areas such that it is located near existing roads and County services. Rural development should not be allowed to become urban in nature so that the County can manage demands upon its resources more efficiently.
A review and comment process will be required for any proposed activity that should occur within County zoning jurisdiction, which includes the unincorporated communities in the County.
Any zoning regulations developed in Red Willow County should be sensitive to the protection and improvement of environmental conditions and needs of the County. These conditions should include, but not be limited to, soil types and suitability, groundwater quality and quantity, surface water quality and quantity, watersheds, and air quality.
The land use area should identify the highest and best use of the land. The creation and designation of this land use area should conform to the same requirements that all other zoning regulations must conform to.
Consult specialized agencies (Extension Office, NRD, NRCS, etc) in review and approval of land use issues.
The cost of required improvements, both on-site and off-site, to a subdivision that are to exclusively serve the property owners of the subdivision shall be borne by the developer or those property owners within said subdivision.
Require the coordination and review of all planning and zoning activities as they relate to extraterritorial jurisdictions and the unincorporated portions of the County. This policy would require a joint review and comment on the proposed activity by the adjacent communities and/or county before the activity proceeds to the next step in the process.
This category assumes compliance with the General Land Use category, but also provides for further policy considerations aimed at managing residential growth specifically.
Red Willow County should manage residential development by preserving and enhancing existing residential neighborhoods and providing affordable housing types for the present and future populations of Red Willow County.
Residential development should be separated from more intensive uses, such as agriculture, by the use of setbacks, buffer zones, or impact easements.
The right of Red Willow County landowners to the exclusive, uninterrupted use of their land should be protected through regulations that are sensitive to the effects of activities that are nuisance in nature.
Red Willow County should actively recruit assisted living centers in order to meet the increasing health and human service needs of the County’s senior population.
The County Board of Commissioners should develop and undertake programs that support local efforts to rehabilitate and improve the existing housing stock of Red Willow County.
Encourage residential development in and around the perimeter of McCook, Indianola, Danbury, Bartley, and Lebanon.
Support housing options for all incomes and physical capabilities of Red Willow County’s residents.
Enforce regulations and ordinances protecting the rights of Red Willow County’s residents.
New residential developments should be accompanied by covenants when appropriate, which provide for the maintenance of common areas, easements and drainage.
Consider soils, floodplain, road and bridge development or maintenance when identifying areas for development.
Encourage the establishment of a rehabilitation program to maintain and improve the existing housing stock.
Develop relationships and partnerships with housing professions in the public and private sector to establish a range of affordable housing options, ranging from a First Time Homebuyer program to rental assistance.
Promote low to zero non-farm densities in agricultural districts by providing proper distances between residential and agricultural uses.
This category assumes compliance with the General Land Use category, but also provides for further policy considerations aimed at managing development in agricultural areas specifically.
Red Willow County should allow agricultural production in all areas in which agricultural uses are appropriate, and non-agricultural development in agricultural areas should be allowed in specifically designated areas which does not negatively impact the agricultural uses.
Large confined livestock operations in Red Willow County should be regulated to ensure compliance with construction and operation regulations, as well as with environmental regulations. These operations should be located in areas of Red Willow County such that their presence and operational impacts on neighboring land uses are as minimal as possible.
Regulations should be established and implemented that create setback and buffer requirements, as well as, regulatory controls over solid, liquid, and gas emissions from livestock operations.
Criteria should be developed to designate areas of Red Willow County identified as “Prime Farmland”. Special consideration through the use of preservation land use practices should assist in the protection of these lands for traditional agricultural purposes.
Uses that promote the diversification of agricultural production by generating additional value to existing products should be encouraged to locate or expand within Red Willow County.
Protect prime agricultural land and maintain the quality of groundwater.
Support livestock production and related agricultural businesses designed, operated and located consistent with maintaining the health, safety, welfare and natural resources of the county and its residents.
Protect the Natural Resources, including soils, water and air within Red Willow County.
Provide separation between livestock and urban/community development.
Work with Livestock Producers on a continual basis in evaluating regulations.
This category involves the general population of Red Willow County not aimed at just one particular area of the Population. This area deals directly with the existing population in the county and the potential population that could be brought into Red Willow County.
Red Willow County must address the primary factor impacting their declining population, that is, persons migrating or leaving the County.
Maintain the number of existing residents through developing and marketing programs that encourage persons to remain, relocate and establish in Red Willow County.
Develop and partner with area businesses and educational providers to identify and provide greater employment opportunities to retain the young persons of Red Willow County.
This category assumes compliance with the General Land Use category, but also provides for further policy considerations aimed at managing, conserving, and preserving the environmental and natural resources in Red Willow County.
The natural resources (soils, groundwater, surface water and air) and environment of Red Willow County shall be protected and managed to insure long term quality, availability and sustainability for the current and future residents and industries of Red Willow County. The goal of Red Willow County is to guide development in a manner that conserves and protects the natural resources; minimizes potential conflicts between rural/urban residents; promotes compatible land uses; encourages compact development and an efficient provision of services.
Zoning regulations and design standards should be created to protect the environmental and natural resources of Red Willow County through the encouragement of preservation and conservation practices.
A Surface Water Protection Area should be established to protect the unique character and environmental quality of the area surrounding the Republican River, Beaver Creek, Red Willow State Recreational Area, Red Willow Diversion Dam, Bartley Diversion Dam, and Burton Diversion Dam.
General land use regulations should require all development in the jurisdiction of Red Willow County to demonstrate a positive, or at least neutral, impact upon the soil, groundwater, surface water, and air.
Federal requirements and regulations should be followed when land use regulations are being developed. Red Willow County regulations should at a minimum be as strict as federal standards, and where necessary, may be enforced in a manner stricter than federal regulations.
Protect all water supplies and aquifers, from development activities that may affect the quality and/or quantity of water. Development shall demonstrate a positive or, at least, a neutral impact on ground water supplies.
Identify with Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, Farm Service Agency, United State Department of Agriculture, Middle Republican Natural Resource District, and Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality for possible sediment control regulations to minimize potential soil loss and/or contamination problems in specific areas of Red Willow County.
Develop zoning regulations and environmental regulations that will aid in maintaining the existing clean air of Red Willow County.
Encourage preservation and conservation of the natural range and canyon areas of the county.
This category assumes compliance with the General Land Use category, but also provides for further policy considerations aimed at promoting and balancing the needs of retail, wholesale, commercial, agricultural, and manufacturing industries in Red Willow County.
Red Willow County should promote and encourage economic development necessary to support the needs of present and future Red Willow County residents such that the Red Willow County economy is stable and diverse.
Agriculture and agricultural employment, including value-added agricultural businesses, should be promoted throughout Red Willow County.
The recreational assets of Red Willow County should be expanded and improved such that they may be promoted through tourism based endeavors, including hunting, fishing, and camping.
The youth of Red Willow County should be encouraged to remain in Red Willow County or return to Red Willow County after completion of their post-secondary education. Economic development projects should be established to provide such encouragement. The youth of Red Willow County should be involved in the identification and development of these projects.
Encourage, promote and develop economic development partnerships between local entities and private companies to assist existing and expanding business enterprises.
Support area historical, cultural and recreational activities. Red Willow County should continue to build upon the historical structures, cultural heritage and recreational assets located throughout the County and within the incorporated and unincorporated settlements to encourage a sense of community through tourism based endeavors.
Expand tax base with diversified industries.
Encourage and promote the development of home-based businesses and telecommuting based upon high technology communication infrastructure.
This category assumes compliance with the General Land Use category, but also provides for further policy considerations aimed at managing the development of public facilities.
Red Willow County should provide an adequate amount of governmental and public facilities in appropriate locations throughout Red Willow County.
The availability and opportunity for grants should be investigated and analyzed. Grants should be utilized whenever appropriate to fund the development and improvement of the infrastructure in Red Willow County.
Public facilities should be strategically located within Red Willow County so as to provide cost-effective, efficient, and timely service to all residents.
The Red Willow County Board of Commissioners should investigate the possibility of Red Willow County adopting the provisions of Nebraska’s “Greenbelt” laws as a tool to ease property tax burden on agricultural uses and producers.
Encourage the location of public and semi-public facilities in a manner consistent with the sector of the County, which they are intended to serve.
Public facilities such as schools or churches should be located in areas near populated areas.
Public facilities such as County yards and maintenance buildings shall be located in key areas of the County, which efficiently serves the public.
This category assumes compliance with the General Land Use category, but also provides for further policy considerations aimed at promoting improved access and circulation within Red Willow County.
Red Willow County should provide a transportation system that improves access and circulation for vehicular traffic within Red Willow County.
The interaction of existing transportation routes and drainage ways should be studied to determine the need for bridge and road improvements.
When new development is contemplated, due consideration must be given to the carrying capacity of the existing road system in the area, and development should be discouraged from occurring in areas where the road system is insufficient to handle any additional traffic load. Infrastructure financing tools should be established that allow Red Willow County to assign portions of future infrastructure needs to the new developments that will benefit from such future infrastructure improvements.
Continue updating county equipment and road programs as needed.
Improve, develop, and maintain well-traveled roads with hard surfacing as identified in the County's One- and Six-Year Plan.
Encourage the on-going replacement of older, dilapidating bridges throughout the County.
Investigate the paving of several County roads to improve the connectivity of the County.
Right-of-way and pavements shall be sufficiently wide and of sufficient strength to accommodate anticipated future traffic loads.
Commercial signing along major arterials shall be kept to a minimum.
Quality education is a vital component of a community and/or county. Although the county's role is limited, policies will be followed to retain the countywide school system. Above all, the main goal is to encourage and maintain a viable school and distance learning system, excellence in the public school curriculum and quality of school facilities to further the educational opportunities for all residents of Red Willow County.
Cooperate with the school systems in expanding public uses of educational facilities.
Establish entrepreneurship training and mentoring program in Red Willow County Schools to encourage and promote business development opportunities for area students and residents, specifically targeting youth.
Utilize schools in Red Willow County as a community learning center for all age groups.
This category assumes compliance with the General Land Use category, but also provides for further policy considerations aimed at promoting the development and improvement of the parks and recreational areas in Red Willow County.
Red Willow County should provide adequate, park and recreation opportunities for the residents of Red Willow County and the State of Nebraska.
Areas of Red Willow County that meet the requirements of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission should be identified and should be recommended for inclusion in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission recreation system.
Park and recreation facilities should be designed to accommodate the particular needs and interests of area residents while protecting, preserving, and conserving the environmental character and quality of the area.
An open-space system should be established that identifies and includes areas of significant tree stands, wetlands, wildlife habitat and environmentally sensitive areas.
Provide parks and recreational facilities that are reasonably accessible to residents of Red Willow County.
Parks and recreational facilities should be designed to match the particular recreational desires of area residents as closely as possible.
The parks and recreation section of the Comprehensive Plan shall be referred to when reviewing new park plans or expansion or redevelopment plans.
Promote recreation as a continuing economic development tool for Red Willow County.
Set standards that require or promote dedication of parks and open space.
Encourage recreational amenities offering year round enjoyment.