Local News

Plans to expand Pacific Place Apartments in western North Platte with help from tax increment financing won a pair of critical City Council votes Tuesday night.

Council members also gave 8-0 final approval to annexing Keenan Management LLC’s recently purchased 35.49-acre tract near Interstate 80. That set the stage for a vote on making it TIF-eligible at the next meeting Aug. 20.

In separate 7-1 votes, the council adopted a long-term “workforce housing incentive plan” to gauge housing projects seeking TIF help and a redevelopment plan for the 64-unit Pacific Place to add 48 more units just to its south.

The $5.5 million apartment project, which would build two 24-unit structures, would be allowed to slowly recoup about $850,000 of its construction costs under a 2018 legislative bill (LB 496).

Pacific Place, however, still needs a conditional use permit to proceed with actual construction. The city Planning Commission and City Council will hold public hearings and votes on that permit Aug. 27 and Sept. 3 respectively.

Public hearings on the TIF-related items consumed most of the 2½-hour-long council meeting, once more replaying North Platte’s long-running debate over whether TIF is useful or appropriate for improving housing and expanding the local economy.

Councilman Ed Rieker cast the lone “no” vote against both measures, echoing some residents who said TIF hasn’t stopped population losses and owners of existing rental housing who consider it unfair.

Mark Shults of North Platte, whose development firm co-owns and operates Pacific Place with Perry Reid Properties of Lincoln, said the 20-year-old complex has been consistently full but couldn’t both expand and offer reasonable rents for new units without TIF.

Mike Jacobson, chairman of the city’s Community Redevelopment Authority, said North Platte has gained $72 million in taxable value and $1.35 million more a year in property taxes from earlier TIF projects that now are fully on the tax rolls.

Pacific Place, 500 N. Pacific St., lies within a neighborhood west of the Buffalo Bill Avenue overpass that the council in March declared “blighted and substandard,” making both new housing projects and potential rehabilitation projects eligible for TIF.

The council’s Aug. 20 meeting will decide whether the “blighted” label is legally appropriate for the Keenan site, located north and east of the Halligan Drive businesses near I-80 and U.S. Highway 83. No projects have yet been announced for that tract.

In other business, the council:

» Gave 6-2 first-round approval to an ordinance that would permanently move the council’s regular meeting time up two hours to 5:30 p.m. Two more positive votes will be needed to make the change.

Council members and Mayor Dwight Livingston debated whether members of the public would be more or less likely to attend meetings if they started right after work instead of after supper.

Rieker and Councilman Lawrence Ostendorf voted to keep the meeting time at its current 7:30 p.m.

» Unanimously approved a “preliminary levy allocation” for the North Platte Airport Authority for 2019-20 under the city’s general tax-rate lid of 45 cents per $100 of taxable value.

The Airport Authority, which owns and operates the North Platte Regional Airport at Lee Bird Field, expects to ask for about $200,000 more in property taxes next year. It will hold its budget hearing Aug. 26.

The onset of SkyWest Airlines’ popular Denver in February 2018 has required more maintenance staff and longer operating hours to service its twice-daily flights, said Airport Manager Sam Seafeldt.

» Granted a conditional use permit to Cody Shellabarger to replace a trailer house with a new duplex on property he owns at 1315 N. Hayes Ave. Shellabarger said he will remove equipment for his construction business from a garage on the site.

» Accepted an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation to upgrade several traffic signals along U.S. 83 and 30. The city and state would split the project’s $110,351 cost.

» Created a sanitary sewer extension district enabling Pals Brewing Co. to connect to a sewer main being built on the opposite side of South Buffalo Bill Avenue. Pals would pay the entire cost of connecting its property to the main.

» Approved a replacement low-income homeowner to receive up to $25,000 in grants or forgivable loans to make critical repairs under a Community Development Block Grant received in 2016.

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