Disputed overlay district will resurface at next council meeting

January 9, 2019

A controversial proposed ordinance that failed to pass at last month’s Norfolk city council meeting will resurface at the council’s next meeting.

At Monday’s council meeting, councilman Rob Merrill officially gave notice to the council that he would make a motion at the next meeting to rescind the council’s actions at its previous meeting on Dec. 17. That was when an ordinance that would have expanded the North Fork of the Elkhorn River overlay district failed to pass despite a 4-3 vote in favor.

An ordinance requires five votes in favor to pass.

Norfolk mayor Josh Moenning — under most circumstances — cannot vote unless to break a tie. But city officials said a state statute indicates that the mayor’s vote can be utilized if the vote establishes a majority.

″(A) motion failed because there were four votes in favor and there needed to be a fifth vote,” said Danielle Myers-Noelle, Norfolk city attorney. “And had the mayor been properly advised and had been able to provide that fifth vote, that would have proceeded.”

Myers-Noelle said the motion by Merrill is allowed under Robert’s Rules of Order, a guideline to parliamentary procedure used by the City of Norfolk and many other governments and private organizations.

Moenning said not only would Merrill’s motion allow for renewed discussed about the overlay district, but the proposed ordinance could also be amended at the next meeting if that is the desire of council members.

Other business discussed at Monday’s council meeting included a proposed advanced technology park at Northeast Community College, sidewalk waivers and a planned development for an upcoming apartment complex.

The council passed a memorandum of understanding between the city and Northeast, where the city will contribute $50,000 and aid in the initial planning process for a new technology park.

Michael Chipps, the college president, told council members that the technology park would help in economic development for the city and Northeast Nebraska as a whole.

“It’s designed for entrepreneurs and technology companies to be able to become a part of developing our workforce,” Chipps said. “Rural Nebraska really struggles and Northeast Nebraska in particular, and this will help turn the lights on, figuratively.”

The process of proposing and planning the technology park has been a long process that involved talking with both representatives of the city and the Nebraska Legislature, and now the plans are ready to take a step forward.

The $50,000 from the city will come from the city’s economic development fund.

The council also approved a final planned development for an apartment complex to be known as Victory Village, which will be located near Channel Road north of East Omaha Avenue.

The process of zoning changes and approving plans for the complex has been met with consistent opposition from nearby residents, though no one spoke against the development at Monday’s meeting.

The developers of the complex also requested a sidewalk waiver along major roads surrounding the complex, but the request was denied by a unanimous vote.

Councilman Gary Jackson said that if the city approved all sidewalk waiver requests, it would not be good for the community.

“If everyone got a waiver because they aren’t connected to an existing sidewalk, then no connecting sidewalks would ever get built,” Jackson said.

Other business passed at the meeting included a zoning change near the Sunset Plaza Mall, a pair of engineering contracts and an ordinance updating child car passenger regulations.

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