West Omaha homeowners clash with developers on plan to build apartment complex

West Omaha homeowners are at odds with the city over a new apartment complex development.
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 10:27 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - There’s a heated dispute between homeowners and developers who plan to build apartments close by.

Residents of a southwest Omaha neighborhood got their first look at the proposal and only 6 News’ Mike McKnight was there for the contentious meeting.

The woods next to Harvey Oaks out at 144th Street may not be the view some homeowners will see in the future.

“A five-story building right back here in my backyard, so whatever noise have out of it and cars coming out of there all the time,” said neighbor Gary Leibsack.

Two buildings used for medical and business offices on 144th Street near Center are scheduled to be torn down and replaced by 200 apartments with a parking garage.

“That’s exactly what I’m going to be staring at,” said Harvey Oaks homeowner Todd Sanwick. “So what are we doing about noise, what are we doing about lights?”

Sanwick, among several dozen Harvey Oaks homeowners, told developers their concerns, including traffic with a center island making the apartment complex entrance one-directional.

And because of the center island, tenants approaching the apartment complex from the south cannot turn left into it. So opponents say they will drive to Harvey Oaks Ave where a sign says “u-turn permitted” and say that’s exactly what most tenants will do.

“Who is doing the traffic studies here, because it’s bad,” said one neighbor. “We just saw two accidents yesterday when walking.”

But the developer’s attorney, Larry Jobeun, doesn’t foresee any traffic issues.

“I think this being on an arterial street and being in the quarter-mile corridor of West Center Road allows for an unlimited amount of apartment units, traffic really shouldn’t be a concern,” said Jobeun.

Called The Kingsley, the apartments would rent from $1,200 a month for a studio to $2,150 for a three-bedroom.

”As we discussed with the group, there are several items we will be working with city planning to resolve as we prepare for the next steps of the development process,” said Dominic Vaccaro with Burlington Capital.

Like keeping at least a 60-foot landscaped buffer between apartment property and neighbors like Bonita Haywood.

“I just talked to them and I told them I was really serious about this and said he should not be able to go into any of those buffers,” said Homeowner Bonita Haywood.

Neighbors say the office and medical buildings owner, Dr. Clarke Stevens, attempted to redevelop the property with a ballroom that fell through about 20 years ago. But he’s been involved in several other real estate ventures since the 1980′s and the proposed Kingsley could be the crown jewel.

“I’ve always been a good neighbor,” said Dr. Clarke Stevens with Aslan Companies.

But many in the Harvey Oaks neighborhood say they won’t see it that way when he builds a 200 unit apartment complex and garage so close to them.

The developers say the apartments fit the city’s master plan and they don’t need a zoning change. Only a conditional use permit is required to start the project this fall, with completion in about two years.

By staying within community commercial zoning, the planning board has the final say on the proposal with a hearing scheduled for April. The City Council would not get to vote on it.