NEBRASKA CITY – Mayor Bryan Bequette updated city commissioners Monday on expected increases in train traffic through town and offered a new city ordinance for first reading that would prohibit parking of non-operating railroad cars.

Mayor Bequette said the new ordinance would prohibit keeping of non-operating railroad cars and provide penalties.

Bequette: “I had asked Drew to draft and he has drafted this ordinance for our consideration over the next few readings. We have it for junk cars. We have it for others things and items, but when you think about it you can bring it in, and if it’s junk sitting on rails sitting on tracks, it’s still unsightly junk that could be sitting there and left unattended.”

City Attorney Drew Graham said abandoned vehicles are not permitted under the city’s nuisance codes, but anything on rails is exempted from definition as a vehicle. The proposed ordinance would add a section regarding railroad cars.

The mayor said it is just a coincidence that he offered the train ordinance at the same meeting as announcing an increase of up to two trains per day. He said the city is not worried that BNSF will park non-operating cars.

With the new train traffic following Highway 2 throug the county, the mayor said it could relieve some of the trains temporarily stopped across Sixth, Eighth and 10th streets in Nebraska City.

In other action, city commissioners approved a conditional zoning agreement for the Hy-Vee store near 11th Street and 11th Corso.

Attorney Drew Graham said the zoning would be changed from industrial to commercial on condition that the developer bear the cost of a traffic signal at the intersection. The city has received application for a building permit on the property.

Commissioners earlier awarded a $233,000 contract to Scheele-Kayton for fire station renovations.

Work includes new living quarters to incorporate rescue personnel, an additional restroom, remodeled kitchen and new day room. The Bill Davis room would be utilized as a training room.

Stoval said he expects work to begin right after the holidays.

In other action, commissioners awarded contracts for South Table Creek and 6th Street bank stabilization projects.

The Sixth Street repairs were needed following the 2019 flooding. A $108,000 contract was awarded to Yost Excavating for work on the northwest side of the Sixth Street bridge and other drainage work.

The city approved a grant agreement with Nebrara Investment LLC. The developer proposes at $275,000 grant to offset construction costs related to townhouses at 1212 12th Avenue.

Finance Commissioner Gloria Glover asked to remove language requiring exterior, cosmetic upgrades form the agreement.

She said the city could use sales tax revenue for that purpose, but she would rather see sales tax used for safety issues or energy issues.

Graham said “exterior cosmetic upgrades” was wording in the resolution and the intent of the developer to use grant funds to cover the cost of exterior finishes.

Parks Commissioner Patrick Wehling said there were extra grading costs, so they did not have funds to complete the townhouses as previously designed.

Street Commissioner Vic Johns said the agreement should be transparent about what the funds are actually for.

Mayor Bryan Bequette said the agreement says funds will pay for exterior details. The city struck the words “cosmetic upgrades” for the use of Nebraska City Growth Funds.

The city amended city codes related to the minimum age for tobacco and nicotine vaping to age 21.