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Council OKs comp plan with changes

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GRAPHIC-City Council

Fremont City Council members on Tuesday, after the required public hearing, made four revisions and adopted the Blueprint for Tomorrow comprehensive plan.

The process began with the creation of a steering committee in October 2010, included a public forum attended by more than 200 citizens at Fremont Middle School on Jan. 17, 2011, other public input, committee meetings and passage by the Fremont Planning Commission in April.

The plan, along with the Long Range Transportation Plan and Parks and Recreation Master Plan, was adopted 7-0 with Ward 3 council member Sean Gitt absent, but only one of the revisions went through unanimously.

A revision providing a page to include the Deerfield development and Fremont Technology Park passed without dissent.

The proposal that drew the most discussion would have removed language calling for the city to “consider a biennial mandatory rental inspection program which enforces property maintenance standards.”

Council member Todd Hoppe’s motion not to strike the wording passed 6-1 with Jennifer Bixby opposed.

Mayor Scott Getzschman said he heard concerns that such a program would be cumbersome and costly, cause excessive costs to landlords and would be tricky to enact while maintaining compliance with the Fair Housing Act.

Council member Steve Navarrette, pointing out that code enforcement was recognized through community input as an important issue, said he could go either way on the proposal, but removing the wording, “means we’re just going to disregard that input.”

Council member Mark Stange said he attended a United Way service array that identified “serious housing concerns in this community.”

“I think for us to take any of this language out would minimize the importance of the issue and really take away from the input,” he said.

Two Fremont residents spoke about the proposal, with Al Hass preferring the language not be removed, and Gary Pebley asking for it to be stricken.

“It’s not asking too much for a landowner to keep their rental property in a state of repair that is equitable for the renters,” Hass said.

“It really makes me mad,” Pebley said, “because the majority of us who are in the rental business do a darn good job, and to tack on, possibly, these restrictions is going to be a pretty good expense.”

Stange and Larry Johnson voted against a motion to strike wording regarding utilities in policy statements, and Johnson was against Bixby’s motion to remove an “overarching authority” paragraph Bixby said was too strict in stating that other plans be revised to conform to the comp plan.

City Planner Rian Harkins said the plan, “essentially creates decision making guidance. While it’s not set in stone, it’s designed to be a living, breathing document, but it’s designed to be proactive instead of reactive in terms of how we grow in the future.”

Getzschman said that while the comp plan is an important piece of city planning, it’s important to remember that the plan is just a guide.

“When you sit back and look at everything in this plan and you begin to realize that it is a roadmap, and it is living, but it can be changed at any time, and it’s not the Bible and it can’t dictate what the council’s going to do, it can’t dictate what Utility’s going to do, but it can give recommendations,” he said.

The next step, Harkins said, is creating implementation teams for each area of the plan. One team, dealing with unified code development, already is under way.

The council also approved:

*Caralee Johnson’s resignation from and Paul Marsh’s appointment to the Ridge Cemetery Association.

*Accepting a $21,676 Department of Environmental Quality grant for a tire recycling event tentatively planned for Nov. 3.

*Parking restrictions on the north side of 22nd Street between Garden City Road and Christy Street.

*Transferring an unused $60,481 grant fund balance to the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics from the 2007 runway safety project.

*A $36,850 architectural agreement with Berggren Architects of Lincoln for roof replacement at Keene Memorial Library. The project is expected to take place this summer or fall, but no interruption of library services is anticipated.

*n A request by In Bloom Flowers, 520 N. Main St., to erect an awning projecting into the public right-of-way.

*Street closings July 13-15 for John C. Fremont Days. The scheduled closings are available at fremonttribune.com.

*Advertising for bids for a new ambulance.

*A $1,707 change order on the Christensen Field Main Arena project.

*First reading of an ordinance creating a paving district to pave the alley from Fifth Street to Sixth Street between Platte Avenue and Logan Street.

*A conditional use permit for Irving Development to add second floor residential space at 408-414 N. Main St. Bixby abstained.

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