Kudos to those who voted ‘no’
Mark the date: 3/27/18; that’s the date when all but three courageous City Council members (Jacobus, McLain and Bechtel) gave SunRidge’s developers a blank check to build whatever they choose along the Military corridor into Fremont.
Nebraska statutes and city zoning rules exist to facilitate property development, but their primary purpose is to protect public health, safety and general welfare, while lessening street congestion, preserving the character and quality of existing neighborhoods, and property values.
More than 250 area residents argued for these protections and petitioned against “general commercial rezoning” along Military. Many passionately spoke against the broad range of uses granted under the most liberal and comprehensive commercial zoning code available. Citizens were rightfully concerned about putting unlimited and unwarranted control of what would be built in the hands of a developer in an established neighborhood comprised of residential homes, two schools and two churches.
If commercialization was needed, the controlled form afforded by Suburban Commercial zoning should have been adopted. This zoning would create areas that are compatible and cohesive with the adjacent neighborhoods, while providing “limited” or “conditional” use constraints that would allow the City to retain approval control.
Compelling pleas from citizens, clarifying testimony from city teachers and the superintendent regarding student safety, as well as for protection of one of the city’s main entryways were presented and filled with gripping emotion; these pleas would ultimately be ignored by the majority.
Flipside — the developer attempted to redirect conversation into Fremont’s housing shortage and SunRidge’s design plan. Housing was not the agenda topic; commercial zoning was. Back on target, one representative stated a convenience store was planned; other representatives countermanded this, stating there was no such plan and they didn’t know what would be built in the area.
Notwithstanding their misdirection attempt and vacillation, the Council gave in, “approved the unknown,” and gave developers a “blank check” to build anything “permitted” under General Commercial zoning; even noting that many, of some 25 “Permitted” uses would be inappropriate, out of character or extremely detrimental for this multi-school area. Shameful!
Kudos to the courageous three for voting for keeping control!