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Neighbors push back: Omaha City Council approves Inland Port Authority Board

Posted at 7:26 PM, Jun 05, 2024

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Neighbors came to city hall Tuesday, many ready to make their voices heard on a project and process that they feel hasn't granted much for community input. This Inland Port Authority Board will oversee projects in a designated area like the proposed Airport Business Park. A project that neighbors have been questioning since it was announced in January.

"But it just doesn't make sense, I mean you think about your own selves and your own homes, if they were making you move out of your own home, to wherever, because that is really what it is, wherever."

I have spent months following the concerns of neighbors in this east Omaha neighborhood, whose homes are in the mapped-out area of the proposed business park. It was nearly an hour of emotional testimony, Tuesday, people sharing concerns about the process, the transparency, the speed of the appointments, and the future of their livelihoods.

Joe Fox Jr., president of the East Omaha Neighborhood Association came to Tuesday's meeting looking for answers because he says he hasn't been able to get them for months.

"I don't know where you guys live, but I live in the City of Omaha and I own an acreage, and that's rare, buying one of those in the City of Omaha is pretty pricey. I got mine and it's paid off. So, I don't want anybody to take it from me without a fair chance to fight for it and fair opportunity and clarity as to what's happening," Fox Jr. said.

Joe says he appreciated his council representative Juanita Johnson asking the questions he presented.

A key issue: transparency. Neighborhood reporter Molly Hudson asked one of the newly appointed members, Mike Riedmann, about how he plans to address that.

"An advisory committee will be made up of people that live in the area that have concerns, business owners that operate in that area, and so there will be direct input from the community. This is a community event, this development and it will engage those that are most affected, through the advisory board," Riedmann said.

Concerns were raised about one of the candidates, Ernest White, and the possible conflict of interest with his role on the OEDC Board. Mayor Jean Stothert addressed those in her comments saying there is no conflict. She added that to eliminate any further conflict, he resigned from the OEDC board.

Ultimately all nine members were approved.

However it is important to note that this board does not have eminent domain power. Riedmann told me they will likely have to discuss with property owners one-on-one.