ASHLAND – Soon, residents living in certain parts of Ashland will be able to use firearms, with limitations.

During its Feb. 6 meeting, the Ashland City Council approved the second reading of Ordinance 1173 to amend zoning to allow the use of air guns, BB guns and other firearms in areas zoned transitional agriculture. A third reading will need to pass for the ordinance to become final.

City Administrator Jessica Quady said the issue came up during public hearings about annexation. The city council annexed Sabre Heights and multiple parcels around the outskirts of Ashland in November. Several of the residents in the annexed areas raised concerns over being able to keep their land free of unwanted animals.

The ordinance will require residents in transitional agriculture zoning to apply for and receive a permit from the city to operate a firearm on their property. It will be a conditional use permit, Quady told the council, and it will be automatically renewed unless there is a reason for the council to deny the approval.

“It is revocable,” she added.

Assistant City Attorney Sheila Bentzen said the city office should provide the police department with a list of persons who are authorized to use firearms to help enforce the ordinance.

As the city increases its footprint through annexation, there are other issues that could arise, including abandoned wells. Former City Council Member Janece Mollhoff was in attendance to see the council finalize a project she started some time ago.

“This is really important for the City of Ashland to protect our water for the future because water is going to be the next shortage, the next concern,” said Mollhoff.

The city received a grant from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy to help close abandoned wells to prevent possible contamination of the water system. The project will cost $40,000, with $16,500 coming from the grant, and $11,750 from the city and the same from the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District.

The council also approved an agreement with JEO Consulting Group to create a Wellhead Protection Plan.

In other action, Chuck Niemeyer was sworn in to replace Paul Gossin as city council member for Ward 1. Gossin resigned in January, citing increased work obligations.

Gossin had also been serving as the council president. The council elected Jim Anderson as the new president.

The council also learned that a new city zoning administrator/building official, William Krecji, has been hired.

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