Cities in Nebraska could gain a valuable tool for riverfront development under a bill before the Unicameral.
Introduced by Senator Sue Crawford of Bellevue, LB-97 would allow a city to create a riverfront development district by ordinance, extending not more than a half-mile from the edge of the river.
Plattsmouth City Administrator Ervin Portis says if the bill had moved forward last year, his city would have taken advantage of it as they’re in the latter stages of a riverfront development project.
“We intend to focus on commercial recreation and take advantage of the marina opportunity, trails, tourism, bring people to the community,” Portis says. “We’ve had to be really creative in our financing package to pull this off.”
Within the bill, the Big Blue River in southeast Nebraska is among those defined as an eligible riverfront. A dozen other rivers are included.
Stan Staab is spokesman for the North Fork Development Project, a volunteer group that’s trying to help Norfolk create a residential, recreational, entertainment and business corridor along the North Fork of the Elkhorn River. Staab says they want to be a “miniature Omaha” in terms of riverfront development
Staab says, “I have personally been to San Antonio, I’ve been around the country to several different communities that have literally changed the face of their community by developing their water resources.”
Under the bill, a riverfront development district would be governed by an appointed authority of five or more members. It could establish contracts, enter into interlocal agreements, create and implement riverfront plans.
The authority’s property would be exempt from state or local taxes. A city establishing a riverfront development authority could levy an occupation tax on businesses and users of the property, or levy an assessment against property in the district.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice