YUTAN – The Yutan City Council tackled several issues during their virtual meeting May 19, including tax increment financing and owning chickens.

Residential developer Melvin Sudbeck had requested the city do a blight and substandard study, at his cost, which is required for the tax increment financing (TIF) he wants for a proposed housing subdivision in northwest Yutan.

TIF allows a developer to capture the property taxes generated from the increased valuation in the development to finance eligible public improvements for up to 15 years. Sudbeck said he needs to use the financing method to pay for infrastructure improvements. An infrastructure study completed by the city earlier in the year indicated several water and sewer improvements would be needed to be done for this subdivision, which could cost over $3 million.

The city council had planned to hold a joint meeting with stakeholders including Sudbeck, the Yutan Board of Education and the Yutan Volunteer Fire Department to discuss the issue. In a memorandum to the council, City Administrator Cole Bockelmann said the school opted not to participate in the meeting.

Prior to the May 19 meeting, Yutan Public Schools Superintendent Mitch Hoffer posted a letter on social media outlining the administration and school board’s opposition to TIF. At the heart of the argument is the loss of tax dollars and potential for quick growth that could be difficult to deal with.

“As a school, we are all for the idea of growth, but we feel as if allowing this TIF project to occur, we will see growth that we cannot properly finance,” the letter stated.

Mayor Darin Egr also posted a letter on social media before the meeting, stating that the city did not propose the development and had repeatedly attempted to meet with stakeholders to discuss the situation.

Egr said there was a lot of confusion in the public about the proposal, but that the city will not be conducting the blight and substandard in the near future.

“At this time, we’re suggesting not to do that,” he said.

Egr then encouraged the council members to make a motion to vote on the issue. The vote was unanimous to not do the study.

The mayor also said that the city council would like to meet with representatives of the school district, fire department and members of the community to discuss plans for the future of the city.

The council also discussed a request to amend the city ordinance banning chickens within city limits by Randy Jensen.

Jensen said he researched city ordinances in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island and LaVista to propose some rules and regulations for owning chickens, including limiting the number to 10 and banning roosters. He said chickens are fun, friendly pets that provide education for children, fertilizer for the soil, pest control and possible income for the owners if they choose to sell the eggs.

City Attorney Maureen Freeman-Caddy said the city has had a ban on chickens since 1984. The subject was broached about five years ago when another resident asked the council to allow chickens. Council Member Jim McLaughlin said at the time the council could not agree on several factors, and the item was not approved.

“The last time the largest disagreement was based on lot size,” McLaughlin added.

Council Member Matt Thompson asked Bockelmann to draft an ordinance and put it on a future meeting agenda.

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