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Maps don't match; county attorney wants help sorting out section lines

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Straightening section lines in northwest Red Willow County and making them correspond with county roads and survey maps could keep the county's roads superintendent busy "the rest of his natural life."

County Attorney Paul Wood asked commissioners, during their meeting Monday morning, to allow him to contact John Hanson, a McCook attorney who specializes in real estate and land title issues, to help the county decide what to do with section lines and county roads that do not match the large "cadastral" maps that county assessor Sandra Kotschwar uses to apportion taxes.

Roads superintendent Gary Dicenta told commissioners that a series of land surveys in the northwest corner of the county are confusing at best. "Section lines are not on the county road," Dicenta said. "And it gets worse around the old air base."

It has been discovered recently -- as landowners contest the number of irrigated acres for which they will be taxed -- that the cadastral maps (a map used to make a cadastre, an official registry of quantity, value and ownership of real estate to determine taxes) that Kotschwar has always used, the original U.S. Government field notes, a 1923 resurvey of the original survey, a 1946 survey of the air base by the deputy state surveyor and a 1962 Bureau of Land Management survey for lakes and irrigation do not match.

Kotschwar is also trying to match maps from the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources to determine the number of irrigated acres to tax. New GIS (Geographical Information Systems) mapping is adding another set of measurements to the mix.

Dicenta said, "If I do something different, it adds another surveyor into the mix."

It's all causing a lot of headaches, Kotschwar said.

Dicenta said there are basically four landowners involved in land surveys in the northwest corner. "All the surveys are based on these strange-shaped sections, based on surveys of record," he said.

Commission Chairman Earl McNutt, said, sadly, "And we're not talking small numbers of acres."

Wood said that the county has two choices: do as it has always done, or change it.

If the county asks Dicenta to correct section markers, Wood said, "he could be busy the rest of his natural life."

Dicenta said the general rule of thumb is to use existing corners of record, even with known errors. However, Wood said, in one case in northwest Red Willow County, one section has more than one existing corner. And another section has three markers. "And some of the original corners from the 1800s survey can't be found," he lamented.

Wood told commissioners, "We'll never know how or why the cadastral maps got so out of whack," and recommended that he be allowed to contact John Hanson for his advice.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to recommend approval of a liquor license for "The Chuck Wagon," north of McCook (outside the city limits and in the county), to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission.

No one spoke against the application, being made by Edgar Carnell Carter Jr., during a public hearing. Carter's application indicates that he leases the restaurant area of the Midwest Livestock (the North) Sale Barn and currently operates it as a restaurant.

Carter told commissioners he wants to be able serve beer or mixed drinks with meals. There would be no open bar, no bar stools and no carry-out, he said. If someone wants a beer with his hamburger or a mixed drink with his steak, that'll be OK, Carter said, "like a supper club."

Carter said he wants to cater especially to the cattle producer groups that gather at the barn, offering a meeting room, meals and drinks.

Alcohol will not be served during sales, Carter said.

Frank Shoemaker, Carter's attorney, told commissioners that the additional service at the Chuck Wagon "could be a good business for the county. No one will come and get drunk, just eat good steaks at a reasonable price."

Commission Chairman Earl McNutt said the request for approval from commissioners is unique, as the Chuck Wagon is the only such business located in the county and not within a town's jurisdiction.

Commissioners wished Carter success with his venture. Carter invited commissioners, "Come eat with us."

Commissioners will wait for a decision from the fair board before deciding whether to buy a metal storage building for sale at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation office on West Third in McCook.

Commissioner Steve Downer said the building wouldn't be of much value to the county's roads shops because its 10-foot ceilings aren't tall enough to accommodate heavy equipment. McNutt said the county would have to pay "lots of additional money" to make it accessible to graders and loaders.

The building is a flat-topped storage building situated north and south, north of the new Bureau office, along West Third, not a rounded half-circle-shaped building.

The fair board is investigating a use for the building on the fairgrounds, and has been asked to report to the commissioners before their Feb. 28 meeting. "If there's a use for it, it would be on the fairgrounds," Downer said.

Both men, however, question, with the building's age, its ability to survive a move intact.

The Bureau requests an indication of interest by February.

In other action, commissioners:

* Approved motor vehicle tax exemption applications and tax roll corrections presented by treasurer Marleen Garcia.

* Approved accounts payable claims.

* Adopted a resolution to advertise delinquent real estate taxes.

* Reviewed and filed the county clerk's and clerk of the district court's monthly fees reports and the treasurer's report of changes to pledged securities.

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