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(Neb)-Council Approves Amended Agreement With Fuller Const For Waterline

By: John Axtell Posted at: 03/05/2019 07:02 AM
CHADRON - After more than 90 minutes of debate and a little horsetrading, the Chadron City Council last night approved 3-2 a subdivision development agreement with Fuller Construction for a waterline to serve industrial property on Stockade Road, south of Highway 20 and west of Greenwood Cemetery.

       Fuller, which already owns adjacent property for its yard and future corporate offices, is buying the land served by the new line from Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation, but the deal is contingent on the waterline.

       The city also owns property to be served by the line and would normally pick up 30% of the cost, but City Manager Greg Yanker proposed having the city pay 70% or about $222,000 as way to help get the land on the market as a part of an industrial park as quickly as possible.

    During last night's meeting, councilman Keith Crofutt - the swing vote on the issue - asked if Fuller would accept a 60-40 split and Eric Fuller, who could not attend but was streaming the meeting, texted his attorney and NNDC board member Randy Cullers that 60-40 was acceptable, leading to the eventual vote ratifying the agreement.

     The proposal came to the council a month ago, but was tabled for 2 weeks to allow for more public input to council members and was tabled again 2 weeks ago when Mayor Miles Bannan was ill and couldn't attend the meeting.

     One of the concerns raised by the two members who voted against the proposal, George Klein and Cheryl Welch was a lack of transparency because the 70-30 proposal wasn't revealed until it came to the council.

     The other members shared to the concern to varying degrees with the explanation that the Open Meetings Act and proprietary information on the deal made early release of information difficult.

      Klein, who opened the discussion with prepared remarks, said he was uncomfortable with the city picking up more than the normal share of costs because he felt the project would move forward without it. He also suggested exploring some mechanism for the city to recover some or all of the additional expenditure from Fuller when the land is sold or developed.

      Both Klein and Welch expressed concerns that the waterline project wasn't put out to bid, and were less than satisfied with the explanation that under the subdivision agreement, it was Fuller's project and not the city's.

       An unnamed Chadron contractor passed word privately to the council members through a third party that it would bid if the project were opened up and that its bid would be significantly lower than the estimate by Fuller that is the basis for the proposal to the city, saving the taxpayers money.

       Fuller also has an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Transportation, whose new yard and offices are immediately north of the Fuller property, for concrete paving of Stockade Road with each spending about $140,000.

       Like the waterline, the road would become the city's after completion, leading councilman Werner to point out that for a $190,500 investment - the revised 60% share of the waterline costs - the city would receive infrastructure upgrades worth more than 3 times that amount.

       After the vote, all 5 council members expressed appreciation to the dozens of residents who had contacted them about the issue and shared their opinions.

       Bannan and Crofutt said most of the calls they received were from supporters of the enhanced city share, something Bannan said he hadn't experienced before since it's normally those against something who call.


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