Omaha City Council Approves Development/Plea Deal
May 18th, 2016
During their weekly meeting Tuesday, Omaha City Council members green-lit a major building project, and made a decision on a pending lawsuit.
Speaking on behalf of Bluestone Development, Omaha lawyer Larry Jobeun presented Council members with plans to build Mayberry Place, a $26 million, three-building project near the intersection of 51st and Mayberry Streets, in Central Omaha.
Speaking to the Council, Jobeun said, “I don’t know if you’ve driven by the site, but there were two houses that were on site, those have since been demolished. There were also some trees that had to be removed in a timely manner before any birds would nest, so some trees had to be removed. There are still some trees that are out there, those are the trees that will continue to remain on site as part of the landscaping plan.”
Jobeun told Council members his client will donate $13,000 worth of trees “for the benefit of the adjacent single family neighborhood” as well as the Midtown ReTree Program.
Jobeun said Bluestone Development made many concessions in exchange for neighbor support for Mayberry Place, even going so far as limiting the number of apartments. The property’s R-8 zoning allows for at least 100 more apartments on the site.
Kathy Kastric lives across the street from the site. She spoke in opposition to the project at Tuesday’s meeting, questioning the authenticity of the site’s zoning status.
“I think before you make a decision,” she said, speaking to Council members, “you need to have some supporting documents that state indeed the zoning is correct, because just going to the map and checking doesn’t seem sufficient to me.”
The map Kastric referenced is the City’s official zoning map in the planning department, which shows the area has been zoned as a mixed use development since the early 90’s.
Councilman Chris Jerram, who represents the area, said he’s torn on the issue. He said on one hand, there is a developer going above and beyond, while on the other hand, concerned citizens don’t want to see their neighborhood change.
“When it comes right down to it, there are some people who have lived in the neighborhood for a very long time and are used to looking out at one of the rare, sanctuary-esque [sic] places for beautiful trees and a rural sense of neighborhood, and they will no longer have that.”
Council members voted 7-0 in favor of the resolution to support construction of Mayberry Place.
A new bar and restaurant will go into the old French Bulldog location in Dundee. Justin Pogge, the owner of Cask Republic was before the Council Tuesday, applying for a new liquor license. Cask Republic promises to offer a wide variety of craft beer and poutine, a French fries and cheese dish.
The Council recommended approval on several other liquor licenses applications. After approving the consent agenda unanimously, Council members returned to a resolution originally before the council two weeks ago.
The resolution authorizes the Law Department to agree to a plea deal between the City, Octavius Johnson, and two of Johnson’s family members.
Two weeks ago, the Johnson family told Council members they didn’t think the federally mediated agreement was fair. Octavius Johnson said he felt like he’d been “professionally coerced” into the agreement.
In the two weeks since then, Council members were provided with transcripts of the private meetings which took place during the mediation process.
And Tuesday, Council members voted unanimously to pass the resolution, essentially agreeing to the plea deal which promises $30,000 for the Johnson’s and up to $60,000 for legal fees. The lawsuit stems from a parking dispute which resulted in excessive force charges being filed against the Omaha Police Department.
The case now goes back to federal court for final approval.
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