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Council approves modifying adjoining building ordinance

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After nearly a month of discussions, the Beatrice City Council approved amending the adjoining building ordinance during their meeting Monday night.

The previous ordinance was approved in 2016 to help preserve the structures downtown. However, downtown Beatrice has seen one building demolished and two condemned in the past few years.

Main Street Beatrice Executive Director Michael Sothan said the buildings could cause large liabilities to the city and property owners if not maintained.

The new ordinance requires the inspection of adjoining buildings annually, but the registration fee would be waived if owners showed proof of insurance, and the building would be inspected once every four years if the building is currently or about to be complaint.

City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer called the amended ordinance a compromise between those wanting building inspections every year and those not wanting any.

“I think there’s a learning curve on the city’s part as to how to use such an ordinance,” Tempelmeyer said. “I think we’ve gotten better at doing that. We understand how it works and how we can use it, so that’s one way I think it will be more effective this time.”

Sothan says most property owners are doing a great job maintaining their buildings, and that they’ve voiced understanding for the amended ordinance.

"That’s kind of the unfortunate thing, sometimes those folks have to be inconvenienced a little bit to try to get out in front of this and reduce our potential liabilities when it comes to some of the problems these properties can create when they become really dilapidated,” Sothan said.

Tempelmeyer said the city’s Community Development Department aims to ensure that structures are structurally sound and do not pose a hazard to an adjoining property owner or the public.

If all adjoining buildings qualified for four-year inspections, the CDD would see roughly 30 buildings each year.

“We try to work with people because we want to see people continue to have businesses, and we want to see buildings downtown that are occupied. That’s our goal,” Tempelmeyer said.

Beatrice resident Wayne Bruns asked the council to consider adding residential properties to the adjoining building ordinance as well, as they can also cause problems to adjacent structures.

Mayor Stan Wirth said that may be a subject for a future ordinance.

The council also gave final approval to annexing properties on the north and west sides of Beatrice.

The first property, owned by Gary and Gail Berke near 9th and Dorsey, will become the site of the proposed Birchwood Estates Retirement Village.

The second is at Southeast Community College, where some of the school's facilities already reside.

The council also approved a changing the zoning designation of said property from "agriculture" to "office".

Tempelmeyer said the rest of the campus is already zoned "office", and that the rezone will not affect the school's ag education abilities.

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