Council Hears From Activists/Protesters to SW Lincoln Development

LINCOLN–(KFOR Feb. 14)–Opponents to a southwest Lincoln housing development across from Wilderness Park and a Native American sweat lodge were at Monday’s Lincoln City Council meeting to show how they’ve been treated.

Land purchased by Manzitto Construction last spring from the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln in the area of 1st and Pioneers had been designated as future residential development under the City-County comprehensive plan for more than 20 years. Last week, trees on that land were bulldozed to start the process of a developing single-family houses, townhomes and apartments. The land and trees had been used in Native American ceremonies.

At Monday’s Council meeting, activists showed up to testify during the public comment period, claiming a lawsuit appealing the Council’s decision to approve zoning and annexation of the land last April, saying they weren’t allowed to give input about the development plan. The appeal with the city Board of Zoning was dismissed by a judge at the request of city officials, saying the board had no jurisdiction.

The first to testify was Emily Lavine, who said a decision was made by the Council without knowing enough about the issues at hand.

“It’s hard enough for me to come here and speak and really hard for me to look people in the eye and say ‘You voted wrong,” Lavine added.

Fran Kaye was also among those who talked to the Council, saying they understand that laws show that Manzitto has the title to the land fair and square.

“We also realize that all North American land laws come from two bases, to extinguish Native title and to take control from people who use the land as a community,” Kaye told Council members.

Wyatt Nelson also testified before the Council saying, “You effectively silenced the voices of your community with lawsuits and police and so I’m going to take that time to reflect that in silence.” Nelson was one of ten people who then went silent during the rest of their allotted time to speak.

To address the issue, Manzitto built six-foot fence along the eastside of the development by Wilderness Park and created space that would lead to planting native vegetation.