FREMONT – The Fremont City Council met in regular session Tuesday evening.
Some of the items on the agenda were in regards to the Redevelopment Plan, acquiring and constructing the lagoon site, and approving the use of eminent domain to acquire the lagoon site.
The idea of the use of eminent domain raised many concerns from citizens. City Attorney, Paul Payne, claimed the addition of eminent domain was only a backup if negotiations failed between both parties.
“It also contains a contingency,” said Payne. “If within a reasonable amount of time, and with good-faith offers, and good-faith effort on my part, we’re unable to reach an agreement then we’ll be able to move forward with whatever type of proceedings we may need to, which could include eminent domain.”
The resolution approving the use of eminent domain passed with a vote of six-to-one by the CDA. Councilman Matt Bechtel voted against the idea, claiming he wasn’t comfortable with adding eminent domain, even as a contingency plan.
“The thing is, when the Costco project came out, I wasn’t on the council yet. We all went to the same meetings, and we came away with different views,” said Bechtel. “I’ve been comfortable with the Costco project, but I’m not comfortable with eminent domain. Since I read about it, since I saw it was on the agenda I had a bad feeling in my stomach, and I can’t shake it. I can’t support it.”
At the meeting, the council once again stressed that the change in the lagoon site was requested by the city, and that some of these projects had been in the plans for years. City Administrator Brian Newton says the city has been looking to separate industrial and domestic waste for a long time.
“We always wanted to put in covered lagoons, because we were putting industrial waste from Hormel currently among domestic waste,” said Newton. “And so we’ve been trying to figure out a way to separate the domestic and industrial waste for years.”
The resolution approving Memorandum of Understanding for the City to acquire the lagoon site and construct the lagoons was approved with a seven-to-zero vote.
Another item on the agenda was a resolution authorizing the City of Fremont to accept a grant and enter into an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality for grant funds to purchase a tree grinder/chipper, and a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute an agreement to share in the purchase, operation, and maintenance costs of the equipment with the City of Blair, as well as provide them with arborist services.