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Eminent domain proposal on city agenda

Friday, July 13, 2012

McCOOK, Nebraska -- City staff is asking the McCook City Council to authorize the go ahead with eminent domain procedures after attempts to negotiate a purchase price for a 10 acre tract of land adjacent to the waste water treatment facility have failed. The city seeks to acquire the land for the EPA mandated construction of two lagoons to dissipate brine and hard water, that has historically been released into the Republican River.

City Attorney Nate Schneider announced that the use of eminent domain to acquire the property owned by the estate of Leo Randel was a possibility during a June city council meeting and then followed up with the Gazette by saying the announcement was necessary to satisfy state statute. Schneider further elaborated after the June meeting that the use of eminent domain would conflict with the city's intention to use SRF funds provided by the Nebraska Department of Environment Quality for the project and wouldn't be considered until negotiations failed completely.

The authorization to utilize eminent domain will be considered Monday evening during the council's regularly scheduled meeting, 7:30 p.m., at Memorial Auditorium. According to the meeting agenda the condemnation proceedings cannot occur until 45 days have lapsed from the public hearing coordinated during the June 18 meeting.

City staff has also recommended councilors deny a request from Barb Ostrum to waive $425 in fees relating to the use of Memorial Auditorium. Ostrum is community services coordinator and is looking for a new location for the annual Coat Closet and McCook Toy Box events that were previously carried out at the National Guard Armory of West Seventh Street.

The Coat Closet event provides more than 1,200 people annually with warm winter clothing and has been in existence for more than 30 years, according to Ostrum. The event enlists more than 460 volunteer hours the week it is carried out.

The McCook Toy Box event has similarly been in existence locally for many years and requires a significant number of volunteer hours as well. It provided 680 children last year with new toys and more than 130 bikes and riding toys were given away.

City staff indicated in the meeting agenda that they were concerned approving the request could set a precedent.

Prior to considering the recommendation from city staff to deny the non-profit groups request a proclamation designating the month of August 2012 as "Random Acts of Kindness Month" will be considered.

A scope of services agreement between the city and the McCook Economic Development Corporation will be considered for approval. The agreement outlines each parties respective roles in the preparation of a Community Housing Study and Comprehensive Plan and zoning regulations updates, to be completed by Hanna:Keelan and Associates. MEDC was awarded a grant of $50,000 by the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority to complete the project and the city has committed to a $25,000 match.

Councilors will coordinate a public hearing to discuss a request from Randy and Curtis Lashley for a special exception to allow a truck and farm equipment repair facility to operate in an area with a future land use of residential. The exception is for a lot on the north side of Road 716 and two lots west of Block 2 of the A.M. Bishop Addition, where a commercial welding and repair shop was approved for a similar exception in January.

The Planning Commission recommended approval of the exception during their meeting earlier this month.

The quarterly Treasurer's Report for the city will be received and filed by councilors. The report shows an ending cash balance of $11,425,081 for the quarter ending June 30, 2012.

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