The City of Norfolk is looking to bring some new technology for residents and visitors in the near future.
The Norfolk city council passed a motion at its Monday night meeting to apply for grants to purchase two electric cars for the city's vehicle fleet and charging ports that could be used by both for those new vehicles and for privately owned vehicles as well.
City engineer Steve Rames said the city will apply for about $200,000 in grant funds, and would match about $50,000 to cover part of the cost of the new cars and installation of electric vehicle charging stations.
There will be four smaller charging stations, which recharge a typical electric car battery in about an hour to an hour and a half, and two larger stations that can power a battery in about 20 minutes. Each will be on publicly owned property; the Norfolk Public Library and the River Point Square park downtown were given as potential locations.
The city is initiating this as a part of its membership in the Nebraska Community Energy Alliance, a group of 36 communities aiming to provide more efficient energy technologies and reduce carbon emissions.
Mayor Josh Moenning said the new infrastructure would be a step forward for Norfolk.
"Electric vehicles are becoming more and more common," Moenning said. "If we set up this infrastructure strategically and utilize grants to pay for most of it, it will be a benefit."
Rames said the vehicles will likely be purchased from local dealerships, depending on what models are available.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, Randy Gates, city finance officer, told the council that ContiTech USA has canceled plans to expand its Norfolk plant.
Gates said the company had several concerns, including the cost of construction. But he said the company is still looking to invest in its Norfolk operations by adding 30 new jobs.
The council also approved several zoning changes, including a change residential to commercial along Pasewalk Avenue near 13th Street just east of Burger King.
Though the Norfolk Planning Commission did not approve a proposal to make the lot a used car lot, Valerie Grimes, director of planning and development, said the city’s comprehensive plan calls for the lot near the high traffic area to be commercial.
The council also approved a pair of hard surfacing waivers and took the first step to annexing a parcel of land in western Norfolk at the intersection of 37th Street and West Omaha Avenue.