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Nebraska developer gears up to win OK for RV park/airboat marina on Platte River

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A developer is planning an RV park along this area of the Platte River south of Valley. The park would be located on the “wet side” of the river. One of the major concerns is whether the RVs could be evacuated safely during periods of flooding.

Drought leaves Platte River near Columbus, Nebraska mostly dry

The controversial proposal to build an RV and airboat park along the Platte River may still have life.

Brad Brown, who builds high-end homes in the Omaha area, will attempt next week to convince the Valley City Council to greenlight his plan to turn approximately 92 acres along the river into an RV park.

Brown’s proposal, which was rejected by the Valley Planning Commission in June, goes before the City Council on Tuesday.

In a text message Wednesday, Brown said he and his team have fine-tuned their proposal.

“Over the past 6 weeks, we have worked hard to listen to the concerns of our neighbors and revise our development plan consistent with the Douglas County Comprehensive Development Plan for floodways (the river side of the levee),” he wrote. “We further researched and revised our development plan to be substantially similar to the recreational and camping areas created by the Papio-River Natural Resource District.”

Brown declined to say what changes he is making, saying that as a courtesy to the Valley City Council, he wanted to present his updated plan to them first.

Opponents fear he could receive a favorable vote. The result, they say, would bring noise, congestion and declining property values to their river getaway.

“It is my understanding that the City Council is considering overturning the decision of the Planning Commission,” said Rich Tesar, who owns property nearby and is an elected board member of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District. “We’re told our property values could go down 25 to 30%. And there is a lot of concern about the airboat noise — it will be like living next to an airport.”

Airboats are a type of boat designed to travel across shallow water. They are propelled forward by an industrial-sized fan that is powered by an automotive or jet engine. Passengers and pilots must wear ear protection when riding in them.

The Platte River Resort, as it would be called, would have space for about 290 RVs and 15 to 20 airboats, based on available information.

The park would be located along .75 miles of riverfront property where West Maple dead-ends at the Platte River. The site is immediately downriver from the residential area known as Sokol Camp.

Opponents also say the proposal will increase flood risk and could run afoul of federal regulations that restrict building in the path of flooding. That’s because the RV park would be in the floodway, the area along a river that is most heavily regulated.

Domina Law Group, in a letter to the Valley City Council, argues that the development could lead to the community losing access to federal flood insurance and incurring significant related costs. Domina represents Curtis Acres Homeowners Association.

Brown has said his plan is the highest and best use of land given that no permanent housing can be built in a floodway.

Promotional literature describes the park as Nebraska’s premier RV resort. Brown has said he would require users to sign six-month rental agreements at $1,000 a month, with a $4,000 down payment. The camp would be open only from April 1 to Oct. 31 to avoid that time of the year when ice jam flooding occurs on the river.

At the June planning meeting, Brown described the RV park as an economic development tool that would draw visitors to the Valley area to eat and shop.

Opponents have lawyered up, circulated petitions and posted signs opposing the park. A number of wealthy Omaha families own property in the area.

The four-person Valley City Council is scheduled to vote on the issue at its Aug. 9 meeting. Should the council deadlock, the mayor will cast the tie-breaking vote. Valley’s council members did not return requests for comment.

Mayor Cindy Grove said she hasn’t formed an opinion on the development.

“There are a lot of things outstanding,” she said of the problems cited by the Planning Commission. “The developer is working to address those items.”

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