Council Votes to allow industrial park in ‘Grandma’s Woods’


October 21st, 2015

IMG_1003Some controversial topics found their way to the Omaha City Council agenda during Tuesday’s meeting.

After taking last week off in recognition of Columbus Day, Council members wasted little time getting back to work.

The first item of note the Council dealt with was an ordinance that had been laid over from three weeks ago.

Local developer Daryl Leise wants to build a storage facility at 204th and Farnam Streets. The Council voted to lay the item over so Leise and people living in the area could work out their differences about what the facility would look like, if approved.

At the time, numerous homeowners, and the Skyline Residence Association, told the Council they didn’t see how a storage facility, known for high traffic, metal doors and bright colors could fit into their rural neighborhood.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Russel Daub, one of Leise’s lawyers, told Council members his client and the Skyline Residence Association had agreed to a list of seven changes to the architecture and landscaping that would lessen the visual impact of the facility to the surrounding area.

Dodd said, “We’re prepared to say that we will do those things. We believe that if the council told us to do them, we would do them.”

But not all of the affected homeowners think the seven changes are enough. Rex Moats is one of those. He’s also a lawyer, and told the Council the other side is just spinning yarns.

“As we stand up here as attorneys, we’re both story-tellers in a way,” Moats said, “and depending on how we tell the story is how the audience receives it. He would tell you a story of fantasy; I would tell you it’s a story of horror. But yet it’s the same facts. It’s the same piece of property. It’s the same people that are impacted, but we’re just trying to paint it in a little bit different perspective.”

Council woman Aimee Melton said she’s alarmed at the number of storage facilities trying to get Council approval. However, she said the plan before the Council could serve as a model on how developers can work with communities.

“I would like to set a standard so that people who are building future storage units– that there is a standard,” Melton said. “The heavily landscaped areas where [garage doors] are completely hidden, I want that to be a standard. I want that to be our new standard; that if they’re not enclosed in a building, that you can’t see the garages.”

Council members voted 5-2 in favor of the storage facility construction.

Next, the Council shifted its focus to an ordinance that would allow Pink Grading, a local excavation and grading company, to create an industrial park on the south side of the city, off of 60th street.

John Pink told Council members the site would be mostly used to store dirt and concrete.

Pink said the site “basically allows us to store the material we generate from projects in an area that works.”

Pink said he would also rent a rock crusher from time to time, to break-up the large pieces of concrete at the site. Michael Roisserree lives near the proposed site and told Council members rock crushing is a health hazard.

“I looked up some research on the effects of rock crushing,” Roisserree said, “One of them is the release of silica dust. It’s a carcinogen. It can also lead to something silicosis.”

A lawyer for Pink Grading said the rock crusher would be 1100 feet away from the nearest house, more than complying with local, state, and federal safety standards.

Janet Raddish, another opponent to the industrial park, told Council members if John Pink and Pink Grading really wanted to be good neighbors, they’d find a different spot.

“Everyone who has lived in this area for a while knows that the woods and the creak have been a fun playground for the neighborhood kids,” Raddish read from a prepared power-point presentation.

She continued, “One only has to hike in the woods to see evidence of their forts, tree houses, and bike trails that were created by our youth. We know because we take our grandchildren for hikes in the woods and at the creek. In fact our grandchildren have nicknamed this area ‘Grandma’s Woods’”.

Council Members voted 5-2 in favor of the Pink Grading Industrial Park.

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