Fairbury City Council holds numerous hearings on LB-840 funding, other business Tuesday

FAIRBURY – It was a busy night in the Fairbury City Council chambers Tuesday, with a total of six public hearings, nine business items and five ordinances on the agenda.

City administrator Colin Bielser gave a semi-annual review of the Local Option Municipal Sales Tax (LB-840) program Tuesday. Reflecting on the last six months, Bielser said there are a number of projects in the works that are using  LB-840 funds, including the Oak Street improvement project from 13th-14th street.

He also says there’s $133,800 being used towards rural housing projects in Beatrice, Geneva, Deshler and Auburn. Fairbury’s council approved a Rural Workforce Housing Agreement with these four communities in March.

Bielser says he expects there to be a housing project in Fairbury that will use LB-840 funds within the next year or so.

Three ordinances, 1080, 1081 and 1082, all passed 8-0 Tuesday. All of them grant LB-840 funds to different projects and developments in Fairbury.

The first, No. 1080, grants $40,000 to Bill Welch of Northwind Estates for the development of a 16-lot, or 5-acre, residential subdivision.

No. 1081 obligates $50,000 of funding to the Blue Valley Community Action Partnership to help establish a purchase, rehab, lease and resell housing program. The $50,000 matches a grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Affordable Housing Program.

“It’s unlike any other program you’re going to find anywhere in the state,” BVCA grant development and PR officer Ben Schwartz said. “A qualified applicant will pick out a for-sale home within Fairbury city limits for up to $100,000.”

Schwartz said the two major qualifications for applicants are “they must have a 600 credit score, and they need to make 120% or less of the median income in Jefferson County as determined by the state.”

Schwartz says BVCA will spend up to $24,000 on renovating homes that they buy. The goal is to bring the homes up to state minimum rehabilitation standards, with the lifespan of 20 years expected at the completion of renovation. Qualified applicants will then sign a lease for up to two years.

BVCA will also apply for a $500,000 grant at the state level, which will go toward the renovation of four homes in Fairbury. The grant is good for 36 months. BVCA Housing Director Kim Clark says they expect to hear news on that grant between August and September.

Ordinance No. 1082 was easily the most debated item Tuesday. There was a public hearing on the use of $125,000 in LB-840 funds for a road reconstruction project on 13th Street from A to Elm.

This stretch of road is gravel. While several councilmen voiced their support for converting all gravel streets to pavement, Doug Brown was the first to suggest that the $125,000 be put toward repairing the gravel roads near Aurora Cooperative on the north end of town just east of Highway 15.

“Anyone who’s been up there knows that those roads need some work,” Brown said.

The biggest road of concern for the council was 24th Street, which leads to Aurora Coop. That street is gravel, and has seen an increased amount of industrial traffic. This had led to the stretch of road being in less than ideal condition.

“There needs to be some improvement in that area,” councilman Ed Friesen said. “That’s needed improvement for quite awhile. That area sees heavy traffic. It seems like a better deal to spend money there.”

Biesler, and street superintendent Laura Bedlan, said repairing an industrial road is more expensive than a residential street, because industrial roads are typically wider and require a thicker concrete.

Councilman Brown eventually motioned to not adopt Ordinance No. 1082, and not grant $125,000 toward repairing 13th St. from A to Elm. That motioned carried 7-1. Roger Bailey was the lone dissenting vote.

Other news and notes

  • Dan Lufkin was officially appointed as Fairbury’s Code Enforcement Official.


  • A recommendation from the Public Works Committee to allow two free swim days at the new Fairbury Aquatic Center was approved. The two free days are June 3 and Aug. 5. Bielser says the pool is still slated to open on Memorial Day weekend.


  • JeffCo On the Move, a group at Jefferson Community Health and Life that encourages and facilitates healthy lifestyles in the community, requested a resolution that designates a safe route for children to walk to school. The route, according to councilman Phillip Rogge, will start a the girl scout cabin at City Park and goes from 8th Street over to “G,” and then makes its way to 9th. Appropriate signs and crosswalks will be installed. The route was unanimously approved.


  • Mayor Homer Ward signed a proclamation, celebrating May 9 as Arbor Day. The city will mark the occasion by planting roughly 50 trees at Crystal Springs Park. More than 180 ash trees were recently removed from the park, due to the risk of the emerald ash borer.


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