A 12-unit apartment complex in Neligh is just one step away from final approval of receiving tax increment funding for the $1.7 million project. But the future of a second potential TIF project is unclear.
Neligh Independent Living’s TIF application for a 12-unit apartment complex moved forward this week and is just one vote away from official approval. But the Funk housing project is at a standstill and may be withdrawn from consideration.
The Neligh Independent Living’s TIF application by the Meuret family is seeking $335,000 in assistance to build a new independent living complex. Both the Re-Development Authority of the City of Neligh and the Neligh Planning Commission approved the funding following separate public hearings on Monday night.
Stephanie Meuret spoke in favor of the project and no one was present to speak against it.
“We’re really excited to be bringing this project to Neligh. We’re still in the planning phase with the architect,” she said. “We’re excited and hope you approve the TIF application because tis’ paramount to getting it off the ground.”
Board member Al Stelling inquired on approximate rent of the housing units. Meuret said she was uncertain at this time “but we don’t have those details worked out.”
Audience member Jeri Anderson asked if the facility would specify income or age demographics.
Meuret said it’s anticipated to house seniors, but it’s designed for independent living, not assisted, meaning there will be no nurses or healthcare on site. It’ll be single story with common community room, storm shelter and enclosed garage.
“It’s going to be very similar to an apartment,” she said, adding it will be next to the Cowboy Trail to offer a beautiful view. “We’ll take care of grounds, maintenance, snow removal.”
Meuret said there will be 12 two-bedroom units with an enclosed garage. She said there will be bank of garages with an enclosed corridor to get into the housing units.
Following the public hearing, the TIF was unanimously approved 4-0 with Ashley Krohn absent. The motion was made by Stelling and seconded by Dennis Anderson.
Next up for the Neligh Independent Living’s TIF application by the Meuret family is the Neligh City Council’s public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 19.
A second public hearing was planned for Monday involving a $47,360 application from Joe Funk and BethAnn Funk for assistance with a potential housing project. However, Economic Development Director Greg Ptacek informed the board it could not move forward with the hearing because documentation had not been signed stating the applicant would be responsible for legal fees should the project not be approved by the Neligh City Council.
Joe Funk asked how many other applicants had signed a similar document. Ptacek said the Meurets, who just minutes earlier had their project approved, signed the document.
“Before that? Before it was brought up?” Funk asked. “Our project has been in the hopper for seven, eight months and you’ve never voted on anything. You talked about that afterward. Then you basically said four to five days later you needed this agreement. . . . This all came up after the last meeting. It looks to me that we’re jumping around and making rules up as we go.”
Ptacek disagreed and said TIF guidelines have been discussed for months and read the motion from a previous meeting that stated it being contingent on the developer paying for costs. Ptacek said it was verbal and the board later requested the agreement be put in writing.
“If something happens and the project doesn’t move forward, all we have is a head nod from Brian (Funk) and you saying, ‘Who do we write the check to?’ ” Ptacek said. “Do you think that’s going to hold up in court? I’m here to make sure the City of Neligh does not have to pay for any more TIF money or expenditures of tax money.”
Joe Funk questioned why the attorney fees would total $3,000 with “a standard agreement.” Ptacek said a specialized TIF attorney was necessary because projects “aren’t boilerplate.” Funk insisted that the agreement request came afterward,
Anderson explained that if the costs end up being less than $3,000, the additional funds collected would be returned to the developer.
“I think we’re at an impasse because we’ve already approved it,” Anderson said. “Unless you pay it, I don’t see how we can go forward.”
Funk said he believed the issue is that the board does not want the project to move forward.
“I get the feeling that you don’t want this to pass, and I’d rather have you say ‘I don’t want this to pass,’ ” Funk said.
Ptacek replied, “We told you no once already. We’ve denied this project once.”
Anderson added, “And since then, the City Council has talked about what the want to look at for TIF and what they want to approve.”
Funk said, “I’m upset with Greg tremendously. I’m upset with the whole situation,”
Ptacek repeated, “If you sign this document, we will move forward.”
Board member Brian Funk, who’s wife and father are the applicants, abstained from discussion and from voting on the application, sat mute for nearly all of the discussion and said, “Let’s go Joe; we’re wasting our time. I’ll withdraw the application.”
Brian Funk then left the meeting.
The discussion between Joe Funk, Ptacek and the board members continued for another 15 minutes.
Board president Terry Jensen said, “Joe, we looked right at you and said we doubt the city is going to pass this and if we pay the $3,000 and it doesn’t pass, we don’t get our money back.”
Joe Funk said he blamed Ptacek for the project not moving forward. Although Brian Funk said he would withdraw the application, Joe Funk said he planned to talk to the City Council members before officially withdrawing the application.
“I felt you led us along a little bit, which I’m not happy about. You should have said in February, that this wouldn’t fly,” Funk said.
Ptacek stated it could still move forward if the project included a duplex.
“I wasn’t aware the City Council was against this,” Funk said. He later added, “If they flat out tell me no, then I’ll come down and tell you and we’ll withdraw.”