Annexation changes proposed

Smaller Nebraska towns would have more flexibility in responding to catastrophic flooding under a bill considered Feb. 18 by the Urban Affairs Committee.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist15' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Lynne Walz'>Sen. Lynne Walz</a>
Sen. Lynne Walz

LB1003, introduced by Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont, would allow any second-class city or village to annex land, lots, tracts, streets or highways to relocate all or part of a town because of catastrophic flooding, while waiving a requirement that annexed areas are contiguous or adjacent and urban or suburban in character.

The bill would require a two-thirds vote of either a city council or the village board to annex land.

The town of Winslow, located in Walz’s district, was severely damaged in last spring’s flooding, and is unable to move because of rules established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, she said.

“The entire town of Winslow is in a flood plain and although FEMA will reimburse for the damage this time, it will not reimburse again,” Walz said.

Winslow Village trustee Zachary Klein testified in support of the bill. The change would allow the town’s governing structure to remain in place while in transition, he said.

“The continuity of incorporation is vital in the recovery stages of a disaster,” Klein said. “It allows the community to maintain the history and current structure.”

Lynn Rex of the League of Nebraska Municipalities also spoke in support of LB1003. She said the bill would not guarantee that Winslow could relocate—it may be cost prohibitive—but without the ability to annex, the town certainly would be unable to move.

“When you have something as catastrophic as what Winslow has experienced, they do need options,” Rex said.

No one testified against the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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