Onward in Green Mountain

Sewer project discussed at supervisors meeting; county declared debt-free

T-R FILE PHOTO The Marshall County Board of Supervisors intend to move forward with a plan to acquire land for the Green Mountain Wastewater Treatment Facility Project. The area of land the county is looking to acquire, pictured here, lies just west of the unincorporated community of Green Mountain.

16.53 acres.

That’s how much private land the Marshall County Board of Supervisors wants to acquire for the planned Green Mountain Wastewater Treatment Facility project, which would provide sewage service to the unincorporated eastern Marshall County community.

“I’m the attorney for Matt Smith Farms (Inc.) and Linda Voss, they’re the owners of the property to which their land is being taken for this project,” said Steve Wandro during a public hearing on the issue at Tuesday’s board meeting. “My clients have resigned themselves to the fact that this project is going to go forward.”

The board unanimously adopted a resolution on the issue Tuesday, and intend to acquire the land, even if it means using condemnation proceedings if other avenues fail. The land being sought is located just west of Green Mountain, and the plan is for the Central Iowa Water Association, also known as “Rural Water,” to take over the site if the land is acquired.

The site would include a three-cell public sewage lagoon to treat wastewater from the nearby community.

Wandro said his clients are worried about the impact such a project would have on some existing infrastructure.

“Right now, their biggest concern is the effect that the construction of the pond(s) will have on the drainage system that runs to the north and to the west of the property,” Wandro said. “If the tiles are broken, it’s going to then require construction of new tile-age to go around the ponds, at great cost.”

Marshall County Environmental Health Administrator John Kunc said it has been the county’s intention to fix any disturbances to tiling due to construction of the project.

“It’s part of the law, we’re not allowed to mess up his tile lines and then leave,” he said. “It’s not just something we want to do, it’s something we have to do, and we fully intend to do it; part of the reason we’ve got some difficulty in even putting that in writing is because we’re not exactly sure the final engineering of the lagoon system, and that won’t be done until we get a little further down the road.”

Kunc emphasized that the facility project is not the county’s responsibility.

“Let’s remember, this is not a county project; the county has to do the acquisition, we will turn the land over to Rural Water, and they and Garden Associates (Ltd.), their engineer, will construct the actual sewer system,” he said, adding grants will be sought to help cover expenses. “Today, we’re just here to start the ball rolling, and get the land acquired, because that’s one of the key things for the grants to be funded.”

Debt free

Board Vice Chairman Dave Thompson had an announcement to make at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Today is a red letter day for us,” he said. “We signed a claim this morning which put the county out of all bonded debt; for all intents and purposes, Marshall County has no debt as of this morning.”

Thompson emphasized that the journey to getting the county to be free of debt involved many people at the county, including previous and current supervisors and other elected officials. He thanked former supervisor Denny Grabenbauer for his work on the debt-free goal.

“We’ve eliminated debt, done increases in salaries, increased our benefit package, taken care of all of the needs,” Thompson said. “I can’t stress enough that this has been a team approach.”

Tax break discussion

Also discussed was a possible three-year, 100 percent tax abatement, or break, for a facility expansion at the Heartland Cooperative Pickering location near Gilman.

“We’ve been expanding our Pickering facility over the years; the county has given us a tax abatement once before on facilities we built probably about three or four years ago,” said Terry Frahm of Heartland Co-op. “Our plan is, right now, to build four additional bins to hold about 400,000 bushels apiece, so we’ll be adding about 1.6 million bushels of storage out there.”

No action was taken on the possible abatement, and, if it were to pass in the future, only the parts of the Heartland Co-op property that are part of the expansion will get the tax abatement; the rest of the existing facilities would continue to be taxable.

Frahm said the project is necessary because the location does not currently have enough storage units to hold all the grain farmers bring in during harvest. Supervisor Steve Salasek said he spoke with 10 farmers in the area, and said eight were against giving Heartland a tax abatement.

“A common thread throughout the conversation was ‘Well, what are you going to do for Mid-Iowa Co-op, and what are you going to do for Nelson Grain?'” he said.

Lloyd Nelson of Nelson Grain also shared a comment during the discussion.

“I just kind of became aware that you were giving these tax abatements,” he said. “If you’re giving these tax abatements, I was wondering why I wasn’t going to get one; I’d like to see you level out this playing field between the co-ops and the private individuals.”

Board Chairman Bill Patten said if Nelson was planning any expansion at his location at the junction of U.S. Highway 30 and U.S. Highway 330, he could speak to the board about the possibility of a tax abatement.

“Valid points; we had not, as supervisors, this group here, asked people if they wanted to do that,” he said. “In my estimation, if you’ve got some building plans, we’d like to work with you; it helps you, it helps the community, and it will help us in the end, also.”

Thompson said he would support a policy to “level the playing field” when it comes to such tax breaks.

“I’d like to see us have a policy that, if we are going to do this, that it applies to everybody; our function, in my particular belief system, is government should not pick winners and losers,” he said.

In other business

The board approved two road vacations, one for a portion of 110th Street, with one half mile in Bangor Township and the other half mile in Liberty Township, and the other for a portion of 277th Street in State Center Township.

The supervisors also adopted a resolution for a construction permit for a proposed animal feeding confinement operation from Jared Whitaker after a public hearing yielded no written or oral comments, questions or objections.

Also adopted was a resolution of support for the City of Marshalltown’s application for the Lead Hazard Control Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The county committed $1,000 worth of in-kind contributions to help meet the application’s requirements.

The next Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 29 at in meeting room no. 1 (formerly called meeting room no. 2) on the third floor of the Marshall County Courthouse, 1 E. Main St.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com