FREMONT – A public hearing regarding a Blighted and Substandard study concerning properties consisting of an estimated 265 acres located along N. Broad Street from the BNSF viaduct on the south, to the vicinity of County Road S on the north was the hot topic of the Fremont City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday evening.
The study found the area does fit under the conditions for a Blighted and Substandard designation, and the next step was for the council to take action of the resolution. It was also discussed during the meeting the study was done in part because of a possible project being built in the area. Nebraska Irrigated Seed has proposed a project to build a temperature-controlled warehouse, and is looking into possible TIF financing. Heather Carver, an attorney with Cline Williams Wright Johnson & Oldfather law firm out of Lincoln, says the study the council was taking action on does not include a proposed project or a plan. It’s just one step of the process.
“What you have before you tonight is not a project. It’s not a plan,” said Carver. “It is simply the blight and substandard study. There are a number of steps involved under the Community Development Law before a project can be approved, and before the benefits of the Community Development Law can be taken advantage of by a community.”
Many concerns were voiced by the public involving possible annexation, Nebraska Irrigated Seed’s proposed project, and the use of TIF. Carver insisted what was before the council did not include approving any annexation, project, or TIF. She says even if the council decides to move forward with the designation, no project can be approved or move forward before the next step, which includes a redevelopment plan.
“We prepare redevelopment plan for the area that goes back to the Planning Commission for recommendation, and then to the council,” explained Carver. “No TIF project can be approved. We can’t take advantage of any of the benefits of the Community Development Law until a redevelopment plan is approved by the council. And even at that point, for any particular project or for the use of TIF, we would need to amend that plan. And there would need to be a redevelopment agreement between the CDA and the redeveloper with respect to that particular project.”
There was discussion to consider tabling the item and allowing the public more time to look over the study. But a motion was made to approve designating the area as blighted and substandard, and the council reached a tie of 4-4. Mayor Scott Getzschman broke the tie with a yes vote, and the motion passed.
Also during the meeting the council discussed a request for the Planning Commission to reconsider a zoning change request in regards to the Fremont Memorial Complex. At the commission’s November 20th meeting no action was taken on the matter to give a recommendation to either disapprove or approve the request.
According to Nebraska Revised Statutes, the council cannot take any action on the issue until receiving a recommendation. The council voted 6-2 to approve the request and allow the Planning Commission to consider giving a recommendation of approval or disapproval on the matter, thus allowing the council to take action.