La Vista, Nebraska – La Vista’s community’s concern has been kindled as families enjoying their local playground face the prospect of industrial development encroaching on their green space. Parents like Emily Walker are troubled by the possibility of factories or industries producing noxious fumes near where their children play. “I can’t be comfortable bringing my kids here to play when I want them to have fresh air,” Walker expressed, voicing the community’s apprehension.
The heart of the issue lies in the zoning of the land near the playground, located at 144th and Chandler. While the area directly across from the park is zoned “light industrial,” there’s a piece of land just about a quarter mile away, zoned “heavy industrial.” This distinction is crucial as it opens the door for more intrusive industrial activities, including asphalt or major manufacturing plants. Residents like Lauren Leggitt, who live close to the potentially affected area, are deeply concerned. “We’d be able to hear and smell everything if there’s something there,” she worried.
Understanding the gravity of the situation, the La Vista Planning Commission has proposed taking over the zoning of this contentious strip of land, hoping to reclassify it as light industrial. This change could potentially prevent more disruptive industries from settling so close to residential areas. Mitch Beaumont, La Vista Communications Manager, acknowledged the influence of public opinion: “We’ve heard their concerns and we’ve listened.”
Despite these developments, the situation remains uncertain. Fenton Construction of Sioux City, Iowa, has bought both sections of land for business development, indicating that light industrial structures are likely to emerge. While not as potentially disruptive as heavy industrial ones, these could still alter the character of the neighborhood.
Residents are particularly concerned about the lack of transparency and control over what gets built. Even though the land has a private owner, the community is urging the City of La Vista to disclose any future development plans. Josh Burk, a nearby resident, summed up the sentiment: “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”
Currently, although the developer has brought in heavy equipment, they are operating only under a grading permit. This doesn’t permit actual construction yet, leaving some room for intervention. Beaumont clarified, “They can grade at their own risk, but if building permits for whatever reason are denied or other revisions required for that project, they are out that work.”
As the La Vista Planning Commission prepares to meet and discuss this pressing issue, the neighborhood holds its breath. The outcomes of the commission’s vote will then proceed to the city council for final approval. Amidst this waiting game, the community’s voice has become a testament to the power of public involvement in shaping the spaces where families live, play, and grow.