SHERIDAN — A 222.9-acre parcel of land in west Sheridan County may not be fit for the subdivision slated to settle on it.
Prior to the building of the Saddlecrest subdivision, state statute requires the applicant of a subdivision permit to obtain review and recommendations from the local conservation district regarding soil suitability, erosion control, sedimentation and flooding problems within 60 days of a subdivision permit request.
Owners of the subdivision, Saddlecrest, LLC organized by Mistee L. Elliott, requested a rezone of 92.8 acres from agricultural to rural residential from the Sheridan County Planning and Zoning Commission, which considers the rezone before sending it to the Sheridan County commissioners for final review and approval.
The Planning and Zoning Commission preliminarily approved the rezone during its May meeting with a 5-0 vote. The Sheridan County Conservation District, though, found issues with the land that might impede safety for future homeowners in the area.
SCCD reviewed soil information provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. In the review, SCCD and the NRCS shared concerns about any action that converts areas of prime farmland soils to permanent urban use.
Less than 3 percent of area in Sheridan County was classified as prime farmland. The review said a significant portion of these lands have already been lost to development since the publishing of the soil survey.
“Loss of those lands puts greater pressure on marginal lands, which typically are more erodible, droughty and less productive,” SCCD’s review said.
The review highlighted that, if the subdivision proceeds, developers should take care during construction to ensure runoff does not convey sediment and other potential pollutants from construction sites into roadways, storm drains and water bodies, including irrigation ditches.
The largest concern for future residents of the subdivision, though, arose in soil erosion hazards. Areas of the land have characteristics consistent with the Highly Erodible Land category. Those soil units make up about 14 percent of the area.
“Erosion potential in the affected areas of the proposed subdivision should be considered during construction,” the review said.
SCCD board Chair Susan Holmes said the area was a terrible place to build a subdivision and the “houses are just going to slide into the ditch,” and it faces a lot of landslide activity.
“I think we’ve said what we can say,” Holmes said during the SCCD May board meeting. “It’s just disheartening that people are building in places like that.”
The board approved the review, which includes concerns for developing that parcel of land.
Sheridan County Commissioner Terry Cram said before approving rezones commissioners take into consideration soil reviews that include steepness of terrain and soils subject to slipping. Commissioners also consider whether the land borders rural residential properties already.
Cram said it is a delicate balance between fostering orderly growth in the county and telling people what they can or cannot do with their own land.
“Ideally, though, development will occur on the edge of the city…where infrastructure can be extended out there and provided for them with sewer and water, roads, police protection and things like that,” Cram said.
The rezone will likely go before the county commissioners at their next meeting.