The Grand Island City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution for the Community Redevelopment Authority to acquire the 47-acre Nebraska Veterans Home campus, 2300 W. Capital Ave., from the state of Nebraska. The CRA will then transfer the property to White Lotus Group of Omaha, which will develop the property for veterans’ and other housing, among other uses.
Under coronavirus restrictions concerning public meetings and attendance numbers, Tuesday’s meeting took on a different format to ensure social distancing.
Mayor Roger Steele and City Clerk RaNae Edwards, along with council members, were the only ones in council chambers at City Hall and were appropriately separated throughout the chamber. Other city officials and members of the public remained outside but were allowed in only to address the council. Eight of the council members were present; two others attended via their phones or computers.
Next month, the CRA is expected to transfer the veterans home property to White Lotus Group, which is expected to present plans for the property development later this summer.
Chad Nabity, CRA director, said the project is intended to provide for the redevelopment of the buildings and property. The project is to honor the history and sacrifices of veterans by preserving historic elements.
The state is not permitted to transfer the property directly to White Lotus Group because it is a private company. The state can, however, transfer the property to the CRA and the CRA is authorized to transfer property to a redeveloper. This redevelopment plan does not authorize the use of tax-increment financing.
The state requested development proposals during the summer of 2019. Several proposals were received and reviewed by representatives from the state and selected members of the Grand Island community. White Lotus Group was selected.
In other news, the council also approved changes to city code relative to landscaping requirements.
The city and the Grand Island Public Works Department are working on making substantial upgrades to the Old Potash Highway between Webb Road and North Road. As part of this planned upgrade, the city will be acquiring additional right of way from the adjoining property owners.
Nabity said most of this area was developed prior to the adoption of any landscaping requirements within the city. He said city staff, working with the engineers, is suggesting that the city exempt this area from the landscaping requirements in a manner similar to the exemptions granted to the Central Business District (Downtown/Railside) and the Fourth Street Business District.
Nabity said the Landscaping Regulations were originally adopted in the mid-1990s. He said they have been amended several times since their initial adoption.
The Grand Island Public Works Department is working on a rebuilding, widening and renovation to that section of Old Potash Highway. The project is expected to occur over a two-year period. The majority of this corridor has been developed along the existing rural section county road.
The project to widen the road will increase the width from a two- or three-lane section to a three- to seven-lane section through this corridor with multiple roundabouts.
Sand and gravel permit
The council also approved a request from Hooker Bros. Sand & Gravel for a conditional-use permit to allow for the operation of a sand and gravel mining facility at 3895 S. Locust St.
Craig Lewis, director of the city Building Department, said a conditional-use permit is required as the current zoning classification, TA or Transitional Agriculture, does not allow for this type of use as a permitted principal use.
Lewis said a permit was approved June 23, 2009, with a renewal May 28, 2019, for a 10-year period for the continued operation on the adjoining property, 3947 S. Locust St.
He said this request is a continuation to the east of the existing operation and is expected to continue to operate after the closing of the original site.
At the Feb. 25 City Council meeting, a public hearing was conducted and a motion was made and approved to postpone approval to the March 24 meeting.
Lewis said a drainage plan has been developed to allow for potential flow of drainage across the property and into the south drainage ditch of the Wood River Diversionary Channel.
He said he discussed the proposal on March 18 with Hall County, and received a verbal approval from both Hall County and the Central Platte Natural Resources District.