Special city council meeting to appoint new severance committee rep

A former Marshalltown city administrator is being called on to serve on a special committee to hear the case of three local families on College View Lane who wish to sever their properties from the city of Marshalltown.

But before Richard “Dick” Hierstein can be voted in, the council must rescind a previous resolution which appointed local attorney Sharon Greer.

She was approved by a 6-0 vote at the June 12 city council meeting.

Her husband and law partner is second ward councilor Joel Greer. He abstained from voting on the appointment.

The Greers have both worked at the Cartwright, Druker & Ryden law firm since 1986.

However, since the meeting, concern has been expressed that Sharon Greer’s appointment “could have potential conflict of interest,” according to wording in a new resolution which is to be discussed at a special city council meeting for noon Thursday in council chambers.

The meeting is open to the public.

At issue is Monte and Leisha Eaton, James and Susan Gruening, Gregory and Linda Jacobs non-refundable severance applications of $250 each to the city last year.

Their applications are unique.

There is no record of previous applications to sever, according to city officials.

Their houses and lots border the extreme southern edge of Marshalltown Community College but are in city limits.

The area was annexed by the city in 1969.

That unanimous action (with one councilor absent) has been repeatedly contested by the Eatons.

They allege the council did it as a favor to a former owner who they allege was in conflict with county officials over construction of an out-building. The Eatons also claimed the owner was in jeopardy of having to tear down the building for violating a county ordinance requiring a building permit. Additionally, they claim the city viewed the annexation as a convenient way to add more tax revenue to the city.

The three families claimed before the council they are paying city taxes but not receiving city services.

The council turned down their requests to sever late last year.

Joel Greer was one of several councilors who opposed severance for a number of reasons.

As a result of council action, the property owners hired local attorney Michael Marquess, who appealed the council’s decision to the state’s City Development Board. That state board has agreed to hear their case, and accordingly, asked the city and Marshall County to appoint a representative to serve on a committee to examine the issue.

Earlier this month, the Marshall County Board of Supervisors appointed Robert Duke of 2604 Smith Ave., to serve as county representative.

Sharon Greer has served many years on the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission and also on numerous volunteer-based organizations since coming to Marshalltown.

Councilor Bethany Wirin, who initially nominated her as the city’s representative, described her at the June 12 meeting as “always well-prepared and one of the most organized persons I have ever met.”

Hierstein, a retiree, worked in city government 37 years. He was the first city manager in Knoxville; Owatonna, Minn; and Pekin, Ill. He served eight years in each, which was unique in the profession. He also served in Carroll and Marshalltown, where he retired in 2010. Hierstein has been a local resident for approximately 14 years, and has remained active in the profession as a consultant.