Redevelopment project creates major changes in Omaha neighborhood

Construction of a major redevelopment project will happen, but one family took another jab at the project.
Crews began ripping up and tearing down trees to make way for a 195-unit apartment complex with space for retail.
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Despite the fight that neighbors put up, major changes are taking place in the neighborhood around Saddle Creek Road and Pacific Street.

Construction of a major redevelopment project will happen, but one family took another jab at the project.

Crews went to work Wednesday morning ripping up and tearing down trees, making way for a 195-unit apartment complex with space for retail. Developers say the project will improve the neighborhood and bring tax dollars and jobs to the city.

Debbie Rushlau and others who live in the area have been fighting against the project for months but eventually lost. The project is a go. Debbie and her neighbors knew the day would come when demolition would begin but they say they just want things to be done right.

“As a private citizen, you don’t get any heads up you knew nothing you don’t get any information about how this is going, they’re going to come out and just tear out all your trees on the city right of way,” said Rushlau.

Debbie called the city, workers from the parks and recreation and public property along with Omaha police came out to her neighborhood. One of the workers said you can’t plant or remove trees in the city right of way without prior authorization.

After some debate, the tree clearing was stopped.

“Can we go through the process and be told how this is going, can we be told anything about it other than we’re coming in and doing this, can you work with us,” said Rushlau.

But moments later the tree clearing continued, crews working only on private property until they get things straightened out with the city.

“There’s only a handful of us and I know that we don’t mean anything there’s probably three people that are involved in this,” said Rushlau.

Debbie says there are only a handful of neighbors making noise about the changes coming to their neighborhood, watching the trees close to her home being destroyed is painful but these are growing pains neighbors here will have to learn to live with.

Neighbors say the tree clearing operation has stopped for the day.

We are still attempting to make contact with planning department officials to get more information and to find out when or if developers can remove trees from the city right of way.