Temple offer blocked for industrial plans
A proposal from two Buddhist monks that could lead to construction of a temple was blocked by the Bellevue Planning Commission.
Greg Kunkel, a prospective buyer, told commissioners he planned to house two Buddhist monks in a house along La Platte Road and to use an adjacent barn for Buddhist social events. Long-term plans, he said, included building a Buddhist meditation temple on the site.
Bellevue Planning Director Chris Shewchuk said the city anticipates significant industrial and commercial activity in the area after the new Missouri River bridge opens next year. Keeping the area free of incompatible development is key, he said.
The La Platte area is designated for light or heavy manufacturing and does not permit new residential or religious uses.
The commission voted unanimously against the proposed zoning change.
But Melissa Jarecke, a real estate broker representing both Kunkel and the current owner, said the city's restrictive zoning limits the owners' ability to sell her land. Jarecke said Jo Ann Powers' property has attracted no interest from anyone planning a manufacturing facility.
Commissioner Tom Ackley said the commission sometimes must put long-term growth ahead of the immediate needs of landowners.
Commissioner Ralph Gladbach said Jarecke underestimated the potential for industrial growth in the area once the new bridge opens.
The City Council will review the issue May 28.
Winery plans to fight proposed asphalt plant
The owner of a Springfield winery is sounding alarms about a proposed asphalt plant along Highway 50.
Dobson Brothers Construction of Lincoln is asking for a conditional use permit to build a plant near the Springfield wastewater treatment plant south of town.
Jim Shaw, owner of Soaring Wings Vineyard and Brewing, is urging residents to oppose the development. Shaw said the asphalt plant could cause property values to drop.
“This will be devastating to our business and those of our community,” he said in a statement. “We will fight this with every resource and legal capability in our power.”
Mayor Mike Dill said he has received phone calls from concerned citizens, but he doesn't have a position on the project. He said a public hearing will be held during the Springfield City Council's meeting Tuesday, and a decision will be made after hearing input from residents.
In April, the Springfield Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of the plant's permit.
The proposal calls for the structure to be no more than 50 feet tall. It would be temporary and movable, potentially based on the company's needs for projects.
The proposed site is one-third of a mile from Soaring Wings, and Shaw questioned whether people would sit outside at his winery if a chemical smell filled the air.
A representative of Dobson Brothers could not be reached for comment.
Sarpy board agrees to give $10,000 to study
The Sarpy County Board agreed to contribute $10,000 to study the feasibility of building an entertainment district at Southport West off Interstate 80 in La Vista.
Developers initially asked the county to cover half the cost of the $37,500 study, which the county board balked at.
County Board member Don Kelly said he was willing to approve the funding to encourage private development and because property tax dollars will not be used.
Sarpy County's tourism operation is funded primarily by lodging taxes paid by visitors.
Sarpy reluctantly OKs motorcycle ride
An appeal by Papillion Mayor David Black rescued a motorcycle ride that could bring as many as 1,000 riders to Sarpy County.
Black persuaded the Sarpy County Board to permit riders with the Rollin' Plains Motorcycle Club of Omaha to travel roughly 50 miles of state highway on July 14 during the club's annual Yellow Ribbon Run.
The run is a charitable event designed to raise funds for the Friends of the Family Support Center at Offutt Air Force Base, which benefits the families of military personnel deployed overseas.
Approval looked doubtful after Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis, Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike Jones, Deputy County Attorney Mike Smith and the county's insurance agent all recommended the proposal be denied for safety and liability reasons.
Jones said a police escort that the club requested would be costly and that momentarily closing intersections for the procession would be unsafe.
The Nebraska Department of Roads used to be responsible for approving the use of state highways for parades, rides and runs.
Black grew dissatisfied with the state's reluctance to allow portions of Highway 370 to be used for runs.
A law passed by the Legislature allows cities and counties to approve events, as long as they assume liability. For many events, approval is a formality.
“These types of local groups do great things for the overall sense of community, for regional tourism and quality of life, they have a real positive impact,” Black told the county board.
He said the county's liability is lessened because organizers agreed to carry a $1 million insurance policy.
The board voted 5-0 to permit the ride.
Gretna High gets grant for courtyard project
Gretna High School has received a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for a courtyard and garden project, bringing in $70,321 for enhancements to go with the school's addition.
Deb Childs, a biology teacher and project director, said the new teaching and lab space will increase the ability to hold outdoor classes.
The area will include an amphitheater, which will be large enough to hold the concert choir.
“It's got a lot of room for kids,” she said.
— World-Herald News Service