FREMONT – The City Council Chambers was packed Tuesday evening as a contested zoning change request was discussed.
The zoning change request from Don Peterson and Associates, Connie & Paul Barron, and Luanne & Gary Ehmcke is to change 8.6 acres land in their proposed SunRidge development from RR Rural Residential to R-4 High-Density Residential. For months there has been a lot of discussion around the zoning change and the proposed development. Many of the concerns brought forward by citizens include safety, drainage, traffic, student safety, and if the project is appropriate for the area.
Marlin Brabec with Don Peterson and Associates attended the meeting and spoke on behalf of the request. He insisted this zoning change would be just one step, and their concept would be brought back to the council for further discussion.
“There’s a good plan here. You’re going to get a chance to look at every phase of this plan,” said Brabec. “This is just the first phase. We’ll be back to see you again so you’ll have the ability to say no. This is the first phase, it belongs there, it’s good planning, and it belongs to be R-4.”
Council members Matt Schaller, Susan Jacobus, and Linda McClain each admitted they had their own concerns with the proposed project but stated those concerns couldn’t be addressed unless action on the request was taken. Schaller stated that each concern brought to them was valid, but without the request being approved, the developers wouldn’t be able to get the facts and answer the public’s questions.
Councilman Matt Bechtel stated while he understood the change would just be the first step and trusts Don Peterson and Associates’s commitment to doing right by the city, he still felt the proposed project would be too much for the area.
“The petition aside, the opposition aside, I grew up in and around this area,” said Bechtel. “Of course this is the first step, but when I look at the final plan, it comes down to that I think it’s too much and too little. That’s where I’m at with this.”
The motion was made to hold the final reading for the zoning change request, which passed with a 7-1 vote, with Bechtel being the no vote. The request was also approved with a vote of 7-1.
Also at the meeting the council heard discussion and approved the Redevelopment Plan, a Cost-Benefit Analysis, and Redevelopment Agreement for the Nebraska Irrigated Seeds Redevelopment Project. The council approved each resolution with a unanimous vote.
They also approved a Film Incentive Program Grant including a 30% rebate to be awarded to Pathfinder Motion Picture Company for a film production in Fremont. Fremont native and writer and producer of the film project Kevin McMahon hopes to begin preproduction in the summer.