A three block strip of Neligh along Highway 275 is in the process of being rezoned from residential to commercial.
The Neligh Planning Commission held a public hearing Tuesday night and voted to recommend rezoning the area to the city council. According to officials, the zoning change would have no effect on taxes or the way other buildings or homes could be utilized in the future.
The rezoning request was made after Sandy Knapp purchased the old jail and museum buildings with the intent to move her antique business, The Loft, into the former Antelope County Museum building.
Zone changes are necessary because the new business must connect with an existing commercial zoned area. According to City Clerk Dana Klabenes, case law in the Nebraska Supreme Court has stated that spot zoning is not allowed. She said it's not legal because that would be zoning property for one owner primarily because that would benefit only one owner.
That's why the rezoning would effect three blocks, from 3rd to 6th Street. It would connect to 3rd Street, which is an area already zoned commercial.
Sandy Knapp addressed the board saying that between June 1 and December 31 she had over 1,600 people come through The Loft, many of which were from out of town.
“I would tell them that there’s all these other places in town to go, because we’re supposed to support Neligh,” Knapp said.
Case law in the Nebraska Supreme Court also looked at whether the rezoning followed the city's Comprehensive Plan.
Several residents who live in the three block area attended the meeting with questions and concerns about the process. Some of the concerns included how a zone change would affect them. According to the officials, the rezone would have no affect on their property or their taxes.
Klabenes said zoning changes do not change the nature of a building. She said utilities of a home will continue to be billed under a residential utility rate, a church will continue to be billed under a church utility rate and a new business will be billed as a commercial utility rate.
Personal residences are allowed to be built in zone by exception, meaning with the approval of the board of adjustments. Also, if a home were to be destroyed by a fire or other natural disaster, the homeowner would be allowed to rebuild their home. Even if a home is sold and years later is destroyed the new owner would still have the right to rebuild a home.
Some residents wanted to know why businesses such as TAB Financial were permitted in residential zones. Klabenes said it is because professional offices, such as insurance offices, are allowed in residential zones. A professional business is not the same as a retail business.