City Takes Steps in Developing the North Fork

NORFOLK — After many attempts, the City of Norfolk is making strides to develop the North Fork of the Elkhorn.

On Monday evening, city officials hosted a town hall meeting about the proposed creation of the Elkhorn River Overlay District. Mayor Josh Moenning explains the ordinances would establish basic design standards so new development would look similar to the downtown.

“Having this natural asset of a waterway flowing just off your downtown is a really unique asset to a community, so to best utilize that asset to prompt new kinds of development that would maximize property value and land use in the area, we considered this overlay district.”

Residents spoke freely at the meeting, and Moenning said they would use the feedback to refine the draft ordinance.

“We heard some positive responses about targeting attention in this area, and using the area, making it better for the long-term benefit of the entire community. We heard questions about what it would mean for existing housing, what it would mean for recruitment efforts for new businesses, restaurants, new retail, what have you. So it was kind of across the board, and that was the point of the entire meeting was to gather input from the public.”

Moenning explains the creation of the overlay district itself does not cost any money.

“It has no price tag associated with it. It’s purely an effort to, again, establish design guidelines for new growth.”

Moenning says there’s already an outside interest from private developers.

“We’ve seen interest in new housing development, we’ve seen interest in new retail development, restaurant, hotels–so clearly there is an interest in what we’re doing downtown to help improve downtown, and expand downtown, and the hope is that long-term it helps spur private redevelopment in the area.”

The ordinance will go to the Planning Commission at its second August meeting, then before the City Council in September. Moenning says residents are encouraged to give their feedback over the next few weeks.

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