OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha, especially out west, is growing.
This growth has caused major traffic delays near 180th and Pacific, a neighborhood that includes a Hy-Vee and two schools. Developers are pushing to add density to the area, building an apartment complex at 178th and Pacific.
Neighbors told the City Council on Tuesday that they think it’s a terrible idea.
“We know the traffic problems of living out west, we also understand that development needs to happen. But we just want any development that’s going to happen to make sense,” said one resident.
The proposal puts a 96-unit apartment complex on a four-and-a-half acre piece of land. Developers point to the city master plan, which makes room for this development, and asked the council to re-zone the area to make it happen. But, neighbors pointed to the nearby elementary school and the rush hour traffic that comes with it as a reason to stop the project.
“You have children that are walking to and from the elementary school as well as the middle school. They play Frogger every day, just to try and get through the traffic,” an Omaha resident said.
The city does, eventually, plan on widening both Pacific and 180th Street in that area. But the Spring Ridge Neighborhood Association lawyer, Michael Matukewicz, said they should wait to build the apartments until the infrastructure is there.
“We don’t know when it’s going to be widened. So we’re going to do the development, yet further increase the congestion in this area,” said Matukewicz.
The council ultimately disagreed, voting five to two in favor of the re-zoning. Councilmember Ben Gray said the school being in the neighborhood does not make them unique.
“I don’t know of a school in any area that I’m aware of, where there’s not going to be significant traffic slowdown, or stop,” said Gray.
Council President Chris Jerram said the city needs to build density out west, before the city is full or there will be unintended consequences.
“What’ll happen is, the cost to live here, the taxes will be so high and have to increase exponentially to cover those costs, that’ll drive people out of the city,” said Jerram.
Councilmember Brinker Harding, who represents the area, voted no, and says he is asking the city to push up the widening of streets on 180th street, and give a date when Pacific street widening will begin.