SARPY COUNTY, Neb. (KMTV) — It’s something many people take for granted, but it’s a really big deal.
Land in southern Sarpy County is prime for the development of homes and businesses, but there’s an issue — specifically with sewage.
There are currently not enough sewer lines to handle that growth. But construction is now underway to bring in those sewer lines and potentially double the population in the county.
“It’s not sexy, but you can’t have development and growth without it,” said Don Kelly, chairman of the Sarpy County Board.
The lack of sewer lines in the southern, more rural part of Sarpy County has hampered its growth for decades.
Specifically, anything south of the ridgeline, which goes through the center of the county, doesn’t have a comprehensive sewer system.
Jon Meyers, an industrial developer and President Emeritus at Nebraska Warehouse, creates pad sites for warehouses. He's been looking to expand further into Sarpy County but has run into the sewer line issue.
“But it’s really slowed, not just us, but a lot of people down for their inability to get building permits in certain areas of Sarpy County,” said Meyers.
That’s changing as new lines are now coming into the county; the first steps of a monumental infrastructure project that aims to bring in $150,000 more people over the next few decades.
“We’ve got the locations where businesses and people want to live and this project is going to unlock that potential,” said Andrew Rainbolt, executive director of Grow Sarpy.
While some farmland will stay, Rainbolt suggests that the county — with these lines intact — could get a more urban feel.
“We might actually see more dense development in this area than maybe we’ve seen in the last 30-40 years just because we’re running out of ground. It’s becoming more precious,” said Rainbolt.
Kelly points to the Kansas City suburbs of what could be possible.
“I guess, if I was going to draw an analogy, we’d be the Overland Park of Kansas City. I mean we’re going to be a prosperous metropolitan suburb of Omaha. But we’re still going to have that small-town feel,” said Kelly.
As for Meyers, he’s putting his own business infrastructure in place now and when initial lines get connected in late 2023 and into 2024, he’ll be ready.
“When we can get a building permit we will go immediately; we already have plans to build,” said Meyers.
The Sarpy County and Cities Wastewater Agency is run by the county and all the cities in the county, which include Papillion, Bellevue, Gretna, La Vista and Springfield.
The whole project is funded through connection fees when new development comes in.
“It’s a big deal,” said Kelly.