Omaha City council decisions impact two iconic Omaha properties


September 23rd, 2015

IMG_1003The Omaha City Council welcomed civic leaders from two international cities during yesterday’s council meeting, and took steps to possibly ban flying lanterns within city limits.

The Omaha City Council made decisions impacting two iconic Omaha area properties during Tuesday’s meeting.

The first dealt with a 110-year-old family farm along south 60th Street. Omaha residents may know the property from the large wooden bear holding a Huskers sign that used to stand out front. Before the Council Tuesday was an amendment to a planned unit development overlay district, which paves the way for Omaha based Foundations Development to build a 62-unit senior living complex on the site. The project, known as Kidder Heights in honor of the original family that homesteaded the site, will total about $110 million.

Dwayne Brooks’ property is adjacent to the four-acre property. He told Council members he doesn’t want to see that piece of land developed at all, because it’s become a haven for wildlife that he and his grandkids enjoy watching. Brooks also told the Council the developer’s decision to put a retaining wall and garages next to his property line will make it easy for would be thieves to steal his belongings.

“And that will be a nice hiding place for somebody to climb up the wall and access my property and the property of the rest of the people in the neighborhood.”

When Councilman Gary Gernandt asked…

‘What prevents that from happening now, sir’

Brooks said, “Not much, because I do get things taken out of my backyard.”

The Council voted 4-3 to pass the amendment.

The City Council also voted to reject a motion that would have rezoned the land where the old Temple Israel building now stands from a Single Family Residential District to a limited commercial district. The Omaha Conservatory of Music bought the facility at 70th and Cass Streets, and plans to move in as soon as renovations are complete. Council members said it was unnecessary to change the areas zoning because as a school, the Omaha Conservatory was already free to make the necessary changes to the property.

Tuesday’s meeting was somewhat of an international event for council members, as the councils from two of Omaha’s sister cities were in attendance.

Speaking through a translator, the chairman of Shizouka, Japan’s city council told Omaha council members they all have a common goal, to enrich the lives of their citizens.

“The distance between us is very great, and we can see each other only a few times, every five years. But I hope we can take this opportunity to share ideas to the mutual benefit of each other’s cities.”

The city council president from Xalapa, the capitol of Veracruz in Mexico, told council members just like Omaha, his city is also home to a university.

“The very glue of the relationships between the cities must be the academic relationship. So I hope we can build that relationship, strengthen it, and it would be an honor to us to have you, all of you one day in your sister city of Xalapa.”

Shizouka, Japan has been Omaha’s sister city for 50 years, Xalapa for 10.

After their international guests had been honored and pictures taken, Omaha Council members heard from Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger, who was speaking in support of a resolution to ban flying lanterns within Omaha city limits.

Chief Kanger told council members flying lanterns are open-flamed, uncontrolled flying devices responsible for starting an untold number of property fires.

“My biggest concern with regards to flying lanterns is the inability to assign blame or cause,” Chief Kanger said. “These things can be launched, travel for miles, and impact a property owner’s home or residence, and we have no ability to figure out who launched these devices, they are completely different than other types of fireworks.”

Chief Kanger said 25 states have banned flying lanterns, and he’s working with the state legislature to add Nebraska to that list. The Omaha City Council won’t vote on the issue until September 29th at the earliest.

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