An Omaha neighborhood that looked out at golf fairways and tee boxes lost what may have been its last stand against a developer’s push to build apartments and homes on the course.

Developer NP Dodge will build up to 210 apartment units and up to 37 single-family houses on the land it bought from the former Sunset Valley golf club near 90th Street and West Center Road.

The City Council approved the south-central Omaha development’s final plat 7-0 after a public hearing Tuesday dominated by nearly two hours of neighborhood testimony against the project.

Over the past two years, neighbors have fought the proposal over worries about building in a flood plain, increased traffic, sidewalks, developer influence and community character with the Planning Department, Planning Board, Mayor’s Office and City Council. Each time, the project has advanced.

Neighbors Don and Louise Giger said Tuesday that they worry most about whether plans to fill in part of the Big Papio Creek flood plain will push flooding onto neighboring properties. Some neighbors shared photographs of flooding that already has occurred to emphasize their belief that new development would make it worse.

“Our home is our savings and our security,” Don Giger said. “So I’m concerned by the fact that this is going to change.”

The council sided with Planning Department and Planning Board recommendations that the development fit with the neighborhood. The council also sided with city planners who said the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District found that no neighborhood properties would be added to the flood plain or require flood insurance because of the project.

Councilman Brinker Harding, whose west Omaha district includes the Sunset Hills neighborhood, said he would not have voted for the project if a single current property owner would need flood insurance as a result of the development.

NP Dodge’s designs include stormwater retention so the runoff doesn’t cause problems for others in the watershed, the developer said. And the company is leaving 60% of the land as green space.

Lawyer Rick Anderson, speaking for developer Nate Dodge, who also testified Tuesday, said his client’s team had worked closely with neighbors, meeting with small groups before applying for a permit and several times after.

That is why the developer added the buffer of single-family homes, Anderson said. He also said private and public engineering reviews of the hydrology of the area found that NP Dodge could build on 40 percent of the 49 acres without putting nearby homes at risk.

Lawyer Ryan Kunhart, representing neighbors, asked the council to delay its vote, citing litigation on how some zoning exceptions were handled. He also said the development was not compatible with the city’s master plan.

Lawyers for the city, as well as city planners, said the development meets the city’s revised master plan and said the council need not wait.

Harding pressed NP Dodge to keep commitments not to change the character of the neighborhood and secured Nate Dodge’s commitment that he would work with the city on lowering traffic speeds if it proves necessary.

Dodge, answering a Harding question from neighbors, said that 127 of the 317 trees on the site would need to be removed but that each would be replaced with a new tree and that as many as can be safely relocated would be.

Evan Halpain, who lives near where the apartments will be built, said he and others feel ignored. He worries about increased crime, particularly thefts, that he said often accompanies apartment buildings. He wondered whether the city was putting profit over the people.

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Aaron covers political news for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @asanderford. Phone: 402-444-1135.

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