Omaha Council to HyVee: Fix Noise Problem at Linden Market Location

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April 20th, 2016

Omaha City Seal in the Legislative Chambers

Omaha City Seal in the Legislative Chambers

During Tuesday’s meeting, Omaha City Council members honored the passing of an Omaha firefighter, and approved plans to buy more than 40 new police vehicles.

 Tuesday’s meeting began on a somewhat somber note, as City Council members marked 20 years since the passing of Captain John Goesling.

Captain Goesling was a 15 year veteran of the Omaha Fire Department. He was killed in the line of duty 20 years ago on April 23rd, while fighting a fire on North 30th Street.

Councilman Garry Gernandt was a police officer at the time.

“We quickly went through our roll call, the night shift came in, we jumped in our cruisers and we went down in procession to the fire station on Ames Avenue, red lights and sirens,” Gernandt said. “We formed up outside the overhead doors, the overhead doors opened, all the firefighters came out, and we paid tribute to them for what they had been going through and expressed our condolences of their loss and we gave them the final hand salute.”

Council members presented two of Captain Goesling’s adult sons—who are now firefighters themselves—with an official proclamation declaring April 23rd Captain John Goesling Day in the City of Omaha.

After approving a few property re-zonings, Council Members turned their attention to liquor license applications.

On the agenda Tuesday was an application from Lamar Brown, who wants to open a sports bar near the intersection of 24th and Laird Streets, in the former location of the Native Omaha Club.

Several residents and a business owner from the area spoke out in opposition to the prospect of another bar in the neighborhood. Ella Willis told Council members there are enough places to buy liquor in the area, and adding another could interfere with efforts to curb illegal activity along 24th Street.

“We have enough johns that come down the street to pick up their tricks,” Willis said, in reference to prostitution. “We do want business in the area, that’s what we’re looking for, but [we’re] looking for a business that’s going to be really secured, with no violence and no drugs around.”

Lamar Brown, the man seeking the liquor license, said he understands the concerns residents have about another bar going into the area.

“This will be a sports bar and grill, not just another bar,” Brown said. Turning to Council President Ben Gray, Brown said, “Your family can come here, you and your son can attend and watch a Nebraska game. Right now, as long as I’ve been living, I’ve never been able to do that in the community.”

Aside from already high crime rates in the area, Council members also questioned Brown’s own criminal history, which dates back to 1996 and includes two charges of giving false information to the police. Brown told Council members he’s a changed man now and wants to improve the quality of life in North Omaha.

In response, Councilman Franklin Thompson said, “I’m trying to figure out which Lamar to believe in; the one that sounds like a budding businessman, a person that has a little bit of vision to be an entrepreneur, somebody that sounds like you really want to help that area become solidified and established—is that the person I should believe in? Or should I believe in this record from the police officers that makes it look like you’re a knucklehead?”

 Ultimately, Brown was able to convince the Council he was no longer a knucklehead, but that wasn’t enough for the Council to recommend approving the liquor license application. The Council did encourage Brown to come back with a different business model at a later date, and try again.

A representative from grocery store chain HyVee was also before the Council Tuesday. HyVee wants to appoint a new manager of the liquor licenses held by the company’s 22 Omaha  locations.

Councilwoman Aimee Melton used the opportunity to call attention to a non-related issue concerning HyVee’s 132nd and Dodge Street location.

“They’re currently in violation of the City’s noise ordinances and have been for three years,” Melton said. “They’re completely making it impossible for the neighbors right behind there to enjoy sitting outside on their patios. In fact the noise is so bad you can hear it with all the windows shut in their bedrooms.”

 Melton said the problem started when the store expanded three years ago, and moved their industrial air ventilation system to the back of the building and closer to private residences. Councilwoman Melton recommended, and the Council approved, laying over approval of any liquor license applications for one week, so HyVee can develop a permanent plan to deal with the noise.

From there the Council unanimously approved their consent agenda, which included the purchase of 36 new Chevy Caprice police cruisers, and 8 Ford Interceptor police utility vehicles. The Interceptors will be used as part of a pilot program for the Omaha Police Department to determine if the utility vehicles should replace the current Caprice Cruisers.

Council members also approved setting aside almost $200,000 in tax increment financing for a project near 24th and Burdette streets, which will use 14 reclaimed shipping containers to build retail space for local start-ups and expanding businesses. The proposed project, called Fair Deal Village Market Place, also includes plans for a healthy grocery store and small café.

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