Juniata CRA looking to move on redevelopment

JUNIATA — In February 2013, the Juniata Village Board approved a resolution to designate the entire village as blighted property, which qualified the town for tax increment financing and subsequent redevelopment projects under the Nebraska Community Development Law.

Now, just over a year later, village officials are ready to move forward with a comprehensive redevelopment plan that will allow the town to act on such projects.

The community redevelopment authority of Juniata met Tuesday, and has been meeting for several months, to bring a plan to fruition.

When officials were looking to designate the village as blighted property in 2012 and 2013, the village board hired Mike Bacon, the city attorney of Gothenburg, to draw up a redevelopment plan for distressed properties and infrastructure in Juniata. Bacon has worked with more than 50 Nebraska communities on TIF projects, including many projects in Hastings, Grand Island, Lincoln and Omaha.

However, Bacon’s draft of a redevelopment plan for Juniata suggested that the Juniata CRA purchase and sell properties and conduct redevelopment projects as an entity, which the group did not want to do.

Thus, the redevelopment plan had to come back to the drawing board. The CRA is hoping to have a second draft of the plan approved this summer so the village can begin some projects. The board isn’t sure whether Bacon or another attorney will be the one to draw up this new plan, but they are anxious to see it drafted.

“We didn’t want the CRA owning the properties and conducting the projects, as Bacon suggested,” said Mike Mead, chairman of the Juniata CRA. “Instead, we want people to complete projects on their own — like building new homes and opening new businesses — and we will give them incentives in the form of tax breaks, sewer and water discounts, street improvements, etc.”

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