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Annexations could force family to leave their urban farm near Bellevue

Posted: 10:16 PM, Apr 30, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-30 23:16:45-04
Annexations could force family to leave their urban farm near Bellevue

SARPY COUNTY, Neb. (KMTV) — Jack and Tracey Jones have owned all 40 acres of their land since inheriting it from Tracey's father a while back.

It's been in Tracey's family for nearly a century.

They've even made it a destination for Sarpy County 4-H kids.

"Feed the livestock, help, do chores, clean, muck, I mean they learn a lot of life responsibilities,” says Jack Jones.

But the future of this farm is in doubt. The city of Bellevue plans to annex the property.

If it goes through the Jones's would lose ‘Greenbelt’ status, given to land used for ag purposes, that lowers property taxes significantly.

Jack says losing ‘Greenbelt’ alone would raise his property taxes by 25 percent.

"From my standpoint, I don't know if it'll be feasible to stay here, I mean I can't see spending upwards of thousands of dollars in taxes to stay here, it just wouldn't be worth it,” says Jack.

One way the family has been able to make money out on the farm is to board horses, something they've been doing for decades.

They also raise chickens, sheep and pigs, they even grow and harvest their own hay to lower their expenses.

But still, if annexed, they think they'll have to move.

"I don't know a life that I don't live here,” says Catherine Jones, daughter of Jack and Tracey.

Catherine Jones is pursuing a career in ag because she grew up on her parents farm. She planned on inheriting it and raising a family here.

"Then I'd have to make up plan B and I don't know what that is, I haven't thought that far, I just assumed this would be it right here,” says Catherine.

Mayor of Bellevue Rusty Hike said over the phone the city has passed over this land for decades and that it's not fair to the rest of the town, who keep paying taxes for city roads.

Jack disagrees, saying he pays plenty in county taxes.

Still he feels like it's a done deal and is sorry that the 4-H kids likely won't be able to come back to their favorite urban farm.

"What's sad about it to me is it's a few people deciding the fate of a bunch of kids, I mean I don't know how many kids have come through our 4-H club, hundreds,” says Jack.