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County not ready to make an offer on property near zoning office

September 20, 2018

MADISON — The Madison County board of commissioners had more discussions Tuesday about purchasing property near the planning and zoning department’s office, but it is unclear if it will move beyond the discussion stage anytime soon.

Earlier this month, the county board discussed the possibility of purchasing the property and the building south of the planning commission office at 1112 Bonita Drive in Norfolk.

The Madison County Joint Planning Commission holds its meetings in the building and could use more room, especially if there is a controversial topic on the agenda that attracts a larger crowd to its meetings.

Bob Hupp, who represents the property owner, said the building features about 7,000 square feet, including about 2,000 square feet used now for living quarters that could be turned into office space. It also features three bedrooms and heated floors.

The lot itself is about 1 acre and would have space for about 30 vehicles to park in front, he estimated.

The last four meetings of the joint planning commission have required people to stand as well as flow into the hallway outside the meeting room. In addition, other county departments use the building for storage, which is limited.

Commissioner Ron Schmidt said the county recently purchased another building for more than $500,000. Before he is ready to commit spending more funds on another building, he wants to make sure that first building is being used as efficiently as possible.

“This is going to be a process,” he said.

Earlier this summer, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension office, which had been located in the Lifelong Learning Center in Norfolk for the past 20 years, moved into the former Daycos Co. building.

Commissioner Christian Ohl said it is worth noting that the county does have a tenant in that newly purchased building that is paying rent and helping offset the cost of the acquisition.

So while it might seem the county has a lot of extra space now, part of it is occupied, he said.

Commissioners also talked about expenses that the county would incur to convert this building near the commission office for its needs. They include paving for parking and possibly modifications to make it handicapped accessible, including restrooms.

Hupp said for the benefit of his sellers, he would like to know if the county had an idea of how long it would take before it would be ready to make a decision on a purchase.

Schmidt said possibly by the end of the year, but he wants to be sure the county has made full use of its first building before purchasing another.

Commissioners also asked if the sellers would be willing to do a lease-purchase agreement.

Hupp said he believes they would, provided that funds are put down initially.

Hupp added that there has been a lot of interest from businesses in viewing the property.

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