Blair City Council roundup: All lots sold at Transformation Hill

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The council approved the sale of four lots in the Transformation Hill, including the final two of the 30 lots that were available.

Two of the lots had previously been sold to another builder, however that builder did not start the houses in the timeframe given in the purchase agreement and did not plan to move forward.

The council approved those lots to be sold to Millennium Homes.

The final two lots were sold to O'Dell Enterprises, Inc.

“If this holds true, I would like to applaud the work that you've all done for this to work like it has,” council member Marty Shepard told City Administrator Rod Storm.

Storm credited the housing committee for its work to try to get more housing in the community.

“It also goes back to the council itself for taking the initiative to move forward with doing TIF to be able to make the lots affordable,” he said.

Housing study results discussed

The council heard the results specific to Blair from a county-wide housing study prepared by Hanna:Keelan Associates.

Keith Carl, a community planner with Hanna:Keelan, gave highlights of the study.

Blair's population is projected to potentially reach more than 9,000 people in the next five years. Currently, the population is estimated at 8,382.

Blair has a vacancy rate of 4.1%. However, when it's adjusted for available housing units on the market, Blair's vacancy rate is 1.6% or 56 units.

“In short, what you've got is you're running a doughnut shop and you're running out of doughnuts at 8:30 in the morning,” he said. “There is a pretty significant housing shortage within the community.”

Carl said a vacancy rate for a city should be at about 6-7%.

“We think that that's a pretty health rate to allow for choice, allow for option within any given community,' he said.

The estimated target demand for Blair is 162 total housing units.

Ordinance approved

The council approved an ordinance authorizing an amendment to a loan agreement, the issuance of a water system revenue bond not exceed $10 million from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) for the new water intake structure at the water treatment plant.

The total cost of the project is $16 million. The city has received a grant for $6 million from the Department of Natural Resources Water Sustainability Fund.

Storm said loan is for 30 years at 0% interest. The loan also carries a 15% forgiveness.

The city could also receive additional forgiveness, totaling $2.1 million to $2.2 million, if the city does not refinance a loan from 2010 that was used for water improvements in the next 10 years.

Purchase of new vehicles approved

The council approved bids for two new vehicles — one for the street department and one for the Blair Police Department.

A bid of $33,500 from Woodhouse Chevrolet for a Silverado 3500 pickup truck was approved for the street department.

The council also approved the purchase of a 2017 GMC Terrain for BPD to be used as a detective vehicle. The previous detective vehicle was changed to a patrol vehicle after a cruiser was totaled when it was rear ended during a traffic stop.

The cost of the GMC, which will be purchased from Sid Dillon, was $16,280.

YMCA 5K run approved

The council approved a request from Sandy Christiansen for the Blair Family YMCA to hold a 5K run at 9 a.m. June 12 during Gateway to the West Days.

The route will be from the YMCA on Wilbur Street to 10th Street to Grant Street then Fourth Street to River Road and back.

Council member Andrew Schank initially had concerns about traffic, which could include truck traffic due to the construction of the new Dollar General distribution center.

Christiansen said she understood if the council didn't want to approve the run this year.

However, Blair police would be present and Grant Street will be closed to traffic during that time, Police Chief Joe Lager said.

The council unanimously approved the event.

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