Some neighbors concerned about the City of Omaha’s plan to declare the area around TD Ameritrade’s new headquarters as blighted are asking the City Council to reject the proposal.
Area residents say they don’t want their neighborhood to carry the blighted label. Beyond that, some neighbors say the city would be making an inappropriate use of the state’s community redevelopment law, which allows use of a property tax incentive in blighted areas. Expect a crowd at Tuesday’s hearing and scheduled vote on the issue.
(The City Council meeting begins at 2 p.m., and the revelopment discussions are near the top of the agenda. Join us!)
The Omaha Planning Board has already signed off on plans to set up the redevelopment districts in downtown Elkhorn, southwest of 72nd and L, in Old Mill and near North 42nd Street.
It’s clear the city wants to stretch its redevelopment efforts into new areas, offering a property tax break as the lure. But what does state law say about what qualifies as “blighted” and “subtandard”?
These definitions come from Chapter 18-2103 of state law:
…Substandard areas means an area in which there is a predominance of buildings or improvements, whether nonresidential or residential in character, which, by reason of dilapidation, deterioration, age or obsolescence, inadequate provision for ventilation, light, air, sanitation, or open spaces, high density of population and overcrowding, or the existence of conditions which endanger life or property by fire and other causes, or any combination of such factors, is conducive to ill health, transmission of disease, infant mortality, juvenile delinquency, and crime, (which cannot be remedied through construction of prisons), and is detrimental to the public health, safety, morals, or welfare;
…Blighted area means an area, which
(a) by reason of the presence of a substantial number of deteriorated or deteriorating structures, existence of defective or inadequate street layout, faulty lot layout in relation to size, adequacy, accessibility, or usefulness, insanitary or unsafe conditions, deterioration of site or other improvements, diversity of ownership, tax or special assessment delinquency exceeding the fair value of the land, defective or unusual conditions of title, improper subdivision or obsolete platting, or the existence of conditions which endanger life or property by fire and other causes, or any combination of such factors, substantially impairs or arrests the sound growth of the community, retards the provision of housing accommodations, or constitutes an economic or social liability and is detrimental to the public health, safety, morals, or welfare in its present condition and use and
(b) in which there is at least one of the following conditions: (i) Unemployment in the designated area is at least one hundred twenty percent of the state or national average; (ii) the average age of the residential or commercial units in the area is at least forty years; (iii) more than half of the plotted and subdivided property in an area is unimproved land that has been within the city for forty years and has remained unimproved during that time; (iv) the per capita income of the area is lower than the average per capita income of the city or village in which the area is designated; or (v) the area has had either stable or decreasing population based on the last two decennial censuses. In no event shall a city of the metropolitan, primary, or first class designate more than thirty-five percent of the city as blighted, a city of the second class shall not designate an area larger than fifty percent of the city as blighted, and a village shall not designate an area larger than one hundred percent of the village as blighted;
Interesting reading, if you’re into this sort of thing.