Efforts are continuing to try to add housing or provide tools to allow older housing in Madison to be redeveloped.

Following a public hearing on Thursday evening, the Madison County Joint Planning Commission voted 6-0 to recommend for approval a request from Madison Mid-Town Area to declare an area of about 34.5 acres as blighted and substandard.

The area generally consists of the northeast quarter of Madison. The average age of a building in the area is 82.2 years old.

The joint planning commission also voted 6-0 after another public hearing to recommend a redevelopment plan for the same area of land.

Both requests are next scheduled to go before the Madison City Council for final consideration on Wednesday, Sept. 8. The joint planning commission serves as a planning commission for both the rural areas of the county and the county’s towns outside of Norfolk, with the county board or local city councils having the final authority.

With the blighted and substandard designation, the land can become eligible for tax-increment financing.

Brenda Jones of the Madison Community Redevelopment Agency said there is no request with this application, however, at this time for TIF.

With TIF, the additional funds generated by the improvements to the property may be used to pay for the infrastructure of the projects for up to 15 years. If additional funds are generated, they go toward retiring the debt early.

After 15 years, the debt is retired and all the entities that receive property taxes receive all the funds the improvements generate. Until that occurs, the taxing entities receive the same amount of property taxes they did just prior to the TIF, with the difference going to the developer for infrastructure costs.

Lowell Schroeder, a community planner with Five Rule Rural Planning, said the plan may be viewed as a template for redevelopment.

It identifies the types of things that the redevelopment could be or what could happen to the property, such as removal of worn buildings, according to statutes. The area is expected to remain primarily residential, he said.

Schroeder, who formerly worked for the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District, said he has seen a lot of work in the towns in Madison County to address housing.

There has probably not been any community that has worked as hard as the Madison CRA to improve the housing stock, or to get rid of dilapidated housing, then turn it over to someone interested in improving it over the past nine or 10 years, he said.

“It’s been really positive for Madison,” Schroeder said.

Commissioner Merlin Oswald agreed.

Oswald said around Madison, there are a number of projects that have taken place in recent years or are now happening. Some of them are CRA projects, and some are people doing it on their own.

“You honestly can’t tell which is which,” Oswald said. “It’s sure filling in a lot of the gaps of existing housing areas plus (helps get old housing replaced).”

Commissioner Jim Prauner asked if declaring a property blighted and substandard could affect the valuation.

Heather McWhorter, the county’s zoning administrator, said that question comes up a lot, but there isn’t any decrease in assessed valuation, which is based on sales of other nearby and similar properties.

Prauner also asked if with these 34.5 acres, would Madison be getting close to the 50% limit of acres that a community can declare blighted and substandard?

Schroeder said if these acres do eventually get declared blighted and substandard by the city council, Madison would have about the mid-30% of its property declared blighted and substandard.

The Madison County Joint Planning Commission met Thursday evening.

Members present: Roger Acklie, Joy Griffith, Jim Prauner, Merlin Milander, Merlin Oswald and Steve Abler.

Members absent: Travis Amen, Zach Westerman, Stan Schapman and Raymond Flood.

Others present: Heather McWhorter, zoning administrator; Jennie Martinez, zoning office assistant; two members of the public and one media representative.

Meeting lasted: One hour.


— Commissioners conducted two public hearings on the application of Madison Mid-Town Area to declare an area of about 34.5 acres as blighted and substandard. The area generally consists of the northeast quarter of Madison, east of main street and north of the creek. The average age of a building in the area is 82.2 years old.

Following the public hearings, commissioners voted 6-0 to recommend for the area to be declared blighted and substandard and then in another motion voted 6-0 to recommend the same area of land to have a general plan for redevelopment. The requests will next be considered by the Madison City Council.

— Commissioners received an update on the county’s comprehensive plan from Lowell Schroeder with Five Rule Rural Planning. Schroeder outlined the work the firm has completed, with a survey of rural residents to be taken. The survey will be used to help give residents input on how they want to see the county develop.

— Heard Heather McWhorter, zoning administrator, give a report, including some compliance issues.

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