Owners of a Washington County farm have a filed a lawsuit against the county after officials alleged they violated building and zoning regulations.
According to a lawsuit filed July 23 in Washington County District Court, Anthony and Mariel Barreras, owners of the Barreras Family Farm, LLC, constructed an accessory building on their property for farming purposes. The property is located at 11564 County Road P30, south of Blair.
On Jan. 10, the couple received a letter of noncompliance from the Washington County Planning Department stating the structure was built without the proper permits being obtained. The letter indicated a conditional use permit is required to build on a property without a residence.
The Barrerases contend building permits aren't required on “buildings utilized for agricultural purposes on a farmstead of 20 acres or more which produces $1,000 or more of farm products,” according to state statute.
Washington County officials also suspect the farm is operating in violation of the zoning regulations as not a permitted use.
According to its website, Barreras Family Farm raises poultry, cattle, hogs and goats and sells its products to both retail and wholesale customers in the Omaha and surrounding areas.
The farm also provides educational programs. The farm's Facebook page shows it has hosted classes on beekeeping, chickens and dairy goats as well as summer farm camps for children on the property.
The owners believe the use of the property and the construction of an accessory farm building are not violations of county zoning regulations and do not require any permits.
The Barrerases are seeking an injunction to have the county lift the noncompliance notice and damages and expenses relating to their livestock operation.
This is the latest lawsuit related to zoning violations to be filed against county.
Most recently, the county has been embroiled in a legal battle with Mick D. Goslin and his wife, Beth L. Hersh-Goslin, of Fort Calhoun. The couple, who lease property at 2797 Herbert Henry Lane, are accused of illegally operating a commercial business on land zoned for agricultural purposes.
According to the county, they have continually violated zoning ordinances and have been arrested several times.
The Goslins filed a lawsuit against County Attorney Scott Vander Schaaf and Sullivan in November. They later amended the suit to include the Washington County Board of Supervisors.
In June, the county board unanimously approved a resolution to ensure all residents and property owners are aware the county will retain its zoning and administer and enforce the basic zoning laws that have been adopted.
The resolution was presented by Sullivan during the board's June 11 meeting.
Vander Schaaf told the board he and Sullivan are trying to inform those who need a conditional use permit or variance to come to the board.
“The problem we're running into again is they don't believe they have to,” Vander Schaaf told the board. “When we bypass this room and we bypass the board the elected officials who are here to make sure that people are at least abiding by the rules or the spirit of the rules, that's a problem.”