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R. Perry Redevelopment Plan Approved

SCBA Units, E3 Entrepreneurship Challenge, and Downtown Revitalization Award - all topics at City Council Meeting

SIDNEY--On Tuesday, November 28, the Sidney City Council met in its regular meeting to discuss and approve various agenda items. The Council approved a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan for R. Perry Construction, out of Iowa, to build 11 new houses. The houses will be located in the area by Lodgepole Creek Apartments, since infrastructure for the homes had been built previously as part of the Prairie Winds project.

The homes fall under the category of "workforce housing", as they are under $325,000. R. Perry will act as the developer, and local contractors will be used to build the homes wherever possible. Scott had Michael Sands of Bayard Construction, from Lincoln, on speakerphone during the council meeting to answer questions and further explain the Redevelopment plan. He said that this plan is "a little bit unique" as it authorizes the use of Workforce Housing TIF. He explained that normally TIF financing is used just for infrastructure and improvements, but in this case it can be used for building the houses.

The Planning Commission had already analyzed the proposal and recommended approval. Scott said their only concerns were about zoning, and making sure the houses fit in with existing homes, and would complement the long range plans of the area. Joe Johnson with Olsson Engineering was in attendance at the meeting, and offered additional information about the proposed project. First, he clarified that the Nebraska Department of Economic Development has a cap of $275,000 for workforce housing, but that it can be increased up to $325,000. He said his firm has done a lot of work with R. Perry, which is involved in projects in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. He said that Nebraska, like other Midwestern states, has a housing shortage, and the focus has been on building new homes in rural areas, and those projects that are currently underway are mostly in smaller communities than Sidney. Sands also said the goal in Nebraska is to build at least 1000 homes in five years with this sort of plan. He said once approved, the time frame would have three to five of the 11 new houses foundations built, and they would expect the sale of the home to be executed prior to the framing of the house. He also stressed that in all cases, local subcontractors would be engaged to perform the work required in constructing the homes. Sands said that the Community Development Agency (CDA) was the statutory body that will enter into the TIF agreement. The City Council then unanimously approved resolutions 20231103, 20231104 and 20231105, which all concerned the Redevelopment Plan and the CDA authorization to move forward with the project.

Other items of business on the agenda were approval of a resolution to allow facsimile signatures for the City with First Interstate Bank. Next, Sarah Sinnett of the E3 Group addressed the council about the E3 High School Entrepreneur Competition on Friday, December 8, at Sidney High School. The competition will be in three phases; the first will be a business plan competition, the second will be a "pitch contest", where the competitors "pitch" their products or services to judges, and then the third phase is an Exposition and Trade show that goes from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and the general public is invited to join in on that phase. The public will then vote on their favorite product or service. Their are prizes for the top three places, and the first prize is $5000 and a MacBook laptop computer.

Sidney resident Caleb Sweetser then addressed the council in regard to removing a "No Parking" sign in front of his newly-purchased home. The structure had been owned by the Sidney Public Schools, and Sweetser is in the process of renovating it for residential occupancy. However, there is still a "No Parking" sign in front of the property from when it was used for school business. Sweetser petitioned the council to remove and rezone the area as residential parking, and the council approved his request unanimously as the Road Department and Police Department had no objection to the request.

Sidney Fire Department Chief Matt Butts then addressed the council concerning the purchase of two SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) units for the Fire Department. The Department has the money budgeted for the units, and the council approved the request. Mike Palmer, City of Sidney Electrical Superintendent, then spoke to the council about his meeting with the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) over the proposed changes to the Sidney Wastewater Treatment Facility's treatment of wastewater concerning Lodgepole Creek. Although Lodgepole Creek is mostly underground, their are areas of the waterway that are above ground and deep and wide enough that the Wastewater Treatment Facility must comply with new regulations. Although the NDEE was sympathetic to the situation with Lodgepole Creek not actually being a "Recreational Waterway", they were being pushed by the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce these new standards. Palmer noted to the Environmental Quality Council of the NDEE of the tremendous additional cost of these regulations, and the NDEE said they would do everything in their power to help defray the cost, but ultimately it is a Federal issue, and they could not allow an exemption. The positive news is that Sidney has a few years to develop a plan to pay for the new costs, or lobby the EPA for an exemption.

City Manager David Scott then informed the council that the City of Sidney has been awarded a $450,000 Downtown Revitalization Grant. The city is now working on an application process for businesses to apply for that grant money, which will be detailed on the City of Sidney's website.

 

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