Council votes down modular home proposal on South 6th Street

T-R PHOTOS BY ROBERT MAHARRY — Ted Williams of Marshalltown was one of several residents who spoke out against a proposed four-unit modular home project on South 6th Street during Monday night’s city council meeting.

The Marshalltown city council covered a host of topics during a regular meeting that ran over 2 ½ hours on Monday night and notably voted down a proposal to move forward with a four-unit low-to-moderate income housing development on South 6th Street after hearing several public comments in opposition to the plan.

The issue came up as part of a discussion and eventual vote on whether the city should move forward with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) applications for disaster recovery funding to build for sale housing at a number of sites around town. According to information provided during the meeting, the development that garnered the most attention would entail four modular owner-occupied homes across the street from the Southern Hills apartment complex. Karen Berger of Marshalltown commented that she didn’t believe it was a good fit and that just because it was a grant funded project didn’t mean the city should automatically pursue it.

“I don’t think those proposed dwellings are neighborhood sensitive. The houses right to the west behind it are selling in excess of $300,000,” she said.

Another concern she raised was a general increase in traffic along 6th Street, and Berger wondered if city officials had done “proper research” and whether the city should be in the business of property development at all. Marty Wymore of Region 6 Resource Partners, City Administrator Jessica Kinser and Housing and Community Development Director Michelle Sponheimer also provided facts and figures on the projects, which would amount to a cost of about $1.7 million across all five lots.

Mark Eaton of Marshalltown shared his opposition to the project, noting that the city has served as a contractor before and “not had much success,” in his view. In addition, Eaton said there are already over 580 low-income housing units within Marshalltown and expressed concern that the grants Sponheimer spoke of helped to pay her salary.

T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY Karen Berger, pictured, also spoke out against the housing project proposal, which occupied a sizable chunk of the 2 ½ hour meeting.

“There’s a lot of money that follows poor people. The Community Development Block Grants have 10 and 20-year contracts that are terms for low-income housing,” he said. “The more low-income housing that we build, the lower the average income of the city becomes because we fill it up with low-income housing people.”

Another resident, Julia Feld, lives near the proposed site on South 6th Street and suggested a green space instead of a housing development due to a lack of parks for kids in that area.

“These kids would benefit from having a green space where they could go fly their kites. If they want the neighborhood kids to get together, it’s some place to go to,” Feld said.

Ted Williams, who resides on West Merle Hibbs Boulevard, told the council he didn’t believe the project made sense if it was going to cost $350,000 just to install the four sewer systems, and Jerry Gazaway also spoke in opposition, worrying about traffic congestion and the potential that it could create more hazards for older residents who live nearby.

Councilors Dex Walker and Gary Thompson quickly indicated they would be voting against the proposal, with Walker calling it a bad location that could have a negative effect on neighboring property values and Thompson predicting it would be “a prescription for problems down the road.”

The opposition, at least among the council, was not universal, however, as Councilor Gabe Isom called the plan “a good use of otherwise useless space,” and fellow Councilor Barry Kell asked if the others were voting against the plan itself or the people it might invite into the neighborhood.

“What I am hearing tonight and via correspondence on email is not an argument against the buildout and the properties, it’s an argument against the people,” Kell said. “We’re not saying no to a building property. We’re saying no to the type of people that will potentially go into this property, and that’s not meeting the community where we are. It’s wishing we had a different clientele and a different product.”

Ultimately, Thompson, Walker, Jeff Schneider and Al Hoop voted against a resolution offering support for the grant application, while Kell, Isom and Mike Ladehoff voted in favor. A separate motion to offer support for grant applications on three other projects — one at 1501 S. 7th Ave., another at 106 N. 4th Ave. and a third at 1807 S. 7th Ave — carried by a 6-1 affirmative vote.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the council:

• Approved a resolution providing for the issuance of $9,555,000 in general obligation corporate purpose bonds and providing for the levying of taxes to pay the same.

• Approved a resolution providing for the issuance of $610,000 in taxable general obligation property restoration bonds and providing for the levying of taxes to pay the same.

• Approved the annual street financial report for 2022.

• Approved a contract change order for box culvert project #SMW20003 with a $7,620 increase.

• Approved two change orders related to work at the airport — one a $14,000 increase and another a $5,500 decrease as liquidated damages from Garling Construction — and denied another change order request related to the same project.

• Approved a resolution for the conveyance and title transfer of a portion of a vacated alley at 918 S. 11th. Ave.

• Approved an annual agreement to provide $50,000 to the Marshalltown Central Business District for the facade improvement program.

• Approved a resolution authorizing the certification of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) indebtedness to the county auditor for each urban renewal within the city for Fiscal Year 2024.

• Approved the third and final reading of an amendment to the junk dealers and pawnbrokers ordinance in the city code.

• Approved the second reading of an ordinance to repeal chapter 152 of the city’s housing code and replace it with the 2021 International Maintenance Code with amendments.


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or



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