The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

City dismisses road fees for Croell


The city planning commission voted Monday to rescind a $1,000 per month road fee to Croell Redi Mix that was meant to pay for road maintenance near its operation.

Robert England, a member of the planning commission and manager of Croell’s local operation, excused himself from the commission to speak on behalf of the company.

Sidney recently billed Croell $3,000 for road maintenance fees for its first three months of operations. The company runs a gravel pit and hot mix plant southeast of County Road 117.

The road fee was the city’s attempt to control any problems that the gravel pit operation might cause. Werner construction, which previously operated out of the pit that Croell purchased earlier this summer, angered its neighbors by allowing its trucks to travel down the road and create large clouds of dust.

Although the pit is outside the Sidney city limits, it’s located within the city’s two-mile zone of influence in which Sidney decides upon conditional use permits and zoning. The city planned to pass along the road fees it collected to the county to pay for any additional road maintenance costs related to Croell’s work at the pit. The city promised to reassess the fee after three months to determine if Croell had come to a road maintenance agreement with the county.

“Part of the bargain was, at this time, we would see if we’d taken care of what we said we were going to do,” England said.

Croell took maintenance of the road upon itself. The company spent around $4,500 to apply magnesium chloride to the road to control dust. The company also graded the road and waters it to cut down on dust.

“We have gone above and beyond the call to take care of these people and make them all happy,” England said.

At a county commission meeting two weeks ago, County Highway Superintendent Tom Noel and County Attorney Paul Schaub both expressed reticence to accept these road fees from the city. Noel said he could only accept the amount of money that he had spent on the road for maintenance. At that point, he hadn’t spent any additional money on the road.

The city also imposed the $1,000 per month road fee on another gravel pit operated by Fred Neal on County Road 113, just outside of Sidney.

Commissioner Tim Smith asked that the city hold Neal to the same standard as Croell and wait until he proves that his pit won’t cause any issues on county roads to rescind its fee. Planning commission members also discussed the possibility of charging Croell if it damages any roads in the future.

“But the thing is, the county is not going to – they’re not going to accept it,” said commission member John Phillips. “So as far as the county roads, we can bill whatever we want to but if they don’t accept it, it’s pointless.”

Because gravel pit operations have also increased the traffic on roads inside the city, it could use these funds for street repair in Sidney, said City Manager Gary Person.

“The intent of the dollars being discussed initially was if the road out there that’s being used is damaged, it would be used to repair that,” said commissioner Don Egging. “So I think ethically, we cannot use it for other things.”

It would be difficult to prove which company caused damage or wear and tear to city roads because of the high level of truck traffic in the city, Phillips said.


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