La Vista residents concerned about industrial land call for zoning changes

Zoning in the City of La Vista has some residents concerned about the potential for industrial construction near a popular park.
Published: Oct. 30, 2023 at 10:30 PM CDT
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LA VISTA, Neb. (WOWT) - Families enjoying their neighborhood playground want La Vista city planners to swing into action before any industry is built nearby that might raise health concerns.

“If they’re going to be building like asphalt factories or things that can produce noxious fumes, I can’t be comfortable bringing my kids here to play when I want them to have fresh air,” said Emily Walker, a parent who lives in the area.

The City of La Vista says that can’t happen right across the street from the park, which is located at 144th Street and Chandler Road, because that land is zoned “light industrial.”

But an asphalt or a major manufacturing plant could be built on property that is designated “heavy industrial,” located only about a quarter mile away from the playground.

It’s not far from Lauren Leggitt’s house.

“There are neighborhoods on both sides with lots of families and kids and all kinds of people that when the wind picks up, we’d be able to hear and smell everything if there’s something there,” Leggitt said.

That property is under Sarpy County’s jurisdiction, but the La Vista Planning Commission hopes to start the process of taking over the zoning of that strip of land and change it to light industrial.

La Vista officials say heavy public input made a difference.

“We’ve heard their concerns and we’ve listened,” La Vista Communications Manager Mitch Beaumont said. “The staff changed recommendations to be something that’s much more compatible with the area.”

Though neighbors would like the area to remain greenspace, records indicate Fenton Construction of Sioux City, Iowa, recently bought both sections of land for business development.

So light industrial structures, like warehouses, car repair, or landscaping businesses, appear to be the best neighbors can hope for.

This area of land is already zoned light industrial by the City of La Vista and even though the developer has brought in heavy equipment, it’s only under a grading permit and doesn’t give permission to start building.

“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,” Beaumont said.

Neighbors understand the land has a private owner but they want the city of La Vista to make public whatever will be built near the popular playground.

“[It’s a] ‘The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know,’ kind of a thing,” said nearby resident Josh Burk. “We don’t know the devil that’s going to go in there, so if they get permits to do whatever they want they can do whatever they want.”

That concern to those living on both sides of the industrial land will be heard at the La Vista Planning Commission’s meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 21.

6 News called and emailed the listed property owner, Fenton Construction, but has yet to receive a response.

The results of the La Vista Planning Commission’s vote on the zoning action would then go to the City Council for final approval.

Correction: A previous version of this story contained an incorrect date for the hearing. 6 News regrets the error.