Minutes of Board of Adjustment’s Hearing held on February 21, 2012.
I. Call to Order. Meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. Board members present were John Gohr, Dennis Staudt, Bill Fluhrer, Ann Sullivan and Angela Ruzicka. Also present were Jeff Sherman, Zoning Administrator, and Misty Day, Assistant Zoning Administrator. Roll call of Board members was taken and all five (5) members were present.
II. Approval of Agenda. A motion to approve the agenda as presented was made by Dennis Staudt and seconded by John Gohr, motion was unanimously approved.
III. Approval of Minutes. A motion to approve the minutes from the January 17, 2012, meeting was made by John Gohr and seconded by Bill Fluhrer, motion was unanimously approved.
IV. Old Business. No old business.
V. New Business.
A. A conditional use request by Archer Daniels Midland Company to have a grain terminal facility on a 34.56 acre parcel of land owned by H.J. Marshall Farms Corp located in the SW¼ of Section 29, Township 96 North, Range 18 West of the 5th P.M., Rockford, Township. Aaron Schlenker, Jason Krueger, Ryan Potts, Greg Eide, Aaron Meyerle, and Michael Means were present on behalf of Archer Daniels Midland Company a/k/a ADM. Property owners Janet & David Fullerton, Todd & Linda Sliger, Dustin & Laura Howe, Jim & Rhonda Howe, Mike Sinning, Tyrell Walker, Charles Fink, Mark Fullerton, Jeremy Hobbs, Debra Engels, and Jason Engels were present for the hearing, as well as Denny Shollenbarger with Floyd County Ag Center, Richard Weiner with Cartersville Elevator, and Tim Fox with Charles City Area Development.
ADM representative Aaron Schlenker introduced the ADM representatives present for the hearing and gave a brief presentation on the proposed project. The proposed project on 180th Street involves putting in a rail terminal facility with 1.9 million bushel of upright storage and 1.2 million bushel of ground storage. There will be a 25 car rail loading facility connected to the Iowa Northern Railroad. They are working with the County Engineer on road requirements and anything that may need to be upgraded. ADM grinds 750,000 bushel a day or the equivalent of 6,000 acres a day and 2.2 million acres annually and they need to buy any corn that they can. With what they see in projected crop increases as far as corn production across the state, the proposed location is an ideal location for their facility. They still need to originate grain from what will become their local competition so they will not adjust any of their current bidding structure to make a competitive advantage or disadvantage to their local competition. They expect most of their draw area to come from the West and Northwest, which is a current area they are unable to draw corn from today due to transportation issues. Board Member Gohr inquired about expected truck traffic. It was determined that there would be an average of 30 trucks a day during the off-season with 150-200 trucks a day during the 4-6 week harvest season. Board Member Bill Fluhrer noted that the road was not adequate for this type of traffic and inquired if ADM had any plans to help upgrade this road. Mr. Schlenker stated that the County Engineer was looking into that and upon their initial conversation with the Engineer, he did not feel the road needed to be upgraded at this time, however, if something changed they would be open to assist in any way possible. ADM representative Michael Means added that they would want their customers to have access to their facility and for their other facilities they have worked with the County to make the roads stable enough. Board Member Dennis Staudt inquired as to whether the road should be a consideration in their approval or if that was up to someone else. Board Member Gohr stated that the Board can make stipulations such as requiring the road to be addressed with approval by the County Engineer. Chair Ann Sullivan also expressed concerns over the wear and tear on the road. Assistant Day stated that the County Engineer was unable to be present for the hearing and it was her understanding that the County Engineer also had concerns with it being a gravel road and that he was going to work with ADM on taking care of that issue, however, the Supervisors were concerned with funding the road upgrade and where the money would come from. ADM Michael Means stated that they have entered into Road Maintenance Agreements with Counties in the past.
Several property owners in attendance including Janet & David Fullerton, Todd & Linda Sliger, Jim & Rhonda Howe, Debra Engels and Mike Sinning expressed several objections to the proposed project including: the fact that there are already 4 elevators within an 8 mile radius and 2 ethanol plants within a 15 mile radius and that these facilities are more than adequate to handle the grain in this area; that the proposed facility may put these existing elevators out of business or force them to layoff people at the very minimum if they can not meet ADM’s competitive prices; there are 3 homesteads and 1 bin & machinery site within close proximity to the proposed site with 2 of these sites being Century Farms; a daycare is also located in one of these homes with school buses stopping at this home morning and afternoon; the poor condition of 180th Street and its ability to handle this type of traffic; the noise and dust that will be created if the road were kept as a gravel road as well as safety issues for children riding bicycles in this area; the close proximity of 2 of the houses to the road and potential safety and nuisance issues if the road were to be widened and the houses become closer to the road then they currently are; water and tile lines that currently run under the road as well as trees that are planted along the road that may be destroyed if the road is widened and paved; this road is used by a lot of farm machinery as this is the quickest route with bridge access and that the truck traffic would deter this farm equipment and make them take alternative routes since the road is not currently wide enough to handle a truck and tractor passing one another; narrowing the ditches to widen the road could also create problems with snow removal and snow buildup; the potential for pest and pollution generated by the facility; an existing rock quarry that generates a lot of truck traffic so the traffic added by the proposed project will make the dust, noise and safety issues worse; that traffic will come from both ways and not just from the West from Zinnia Avenue which is the only portion of the road that may be paved; a CRP site with forestry trees is also within close proximity to the proposed site which is designated for wildlife and the wildlife may be driven off from the noise and activity level generated at this facility; the potential for train cars blocking the road and creating a hazard for emergency vehicles; and concerns about water run off as it is not real clear on what ADM has in mind for this particular problem. Other property owners were also opposed to the project as indicated on the sign-in sheet, however, not all of them spoke during the hearing.
ADM representative Michael Means addressed some of these concerns by stating that they have strict EPA emission standards they must abide by and the facility is set back off of the road quite a ways, so if they did have grain dust leaving their property they would have a problem with EPA. He also stated that gravel dust was also a concern for ADM and what they have done before was spray calcium chloride or emulsified asphalt to suppress the dust and maybe they have to spray it twice a year. Rhonda Howe expressed concerns with this dust control solution as she has seen it sprayed before and because the road graters do not disturb these areas, chuck holes begin to form causing a rough road by the end of the summer, in addition that it does not control dust longer than 3-4 days especially with this type of traffic. ADM representative Michael Means agreed that calcium chloride does not last very long, but emulsified asphalt is more of a sealant and after a couple of coats have been applied it is almost like asphalt which must be maintained and redone each year. Emulsified asphalt is petroleum based and ADM can provide more information on this product. David Fullerton expressed concerns that calcium chloride might be the only thing that could be used in Iowa and ADM was unsure of Iowa’s standards regarding the emulsified asphalt product.
An ADM representative addressed the water run off concerns by stating that their civil engineer firm has looked at water issues and has proposed that 1 detention basin be placed on the North side and 2 detention basins be placed on the South side. These basins were designed to accommodate a 50 year event. ADM also stated that they talked with the County Engineer about weight restrictions and road issues when they first began looking at this site and they were under the impression that they would not have to do anything, at least initially.
Board Member John Gohr inquired as to whether ADM has a different market for their facility then what the local elevators have. ADM representative Aaron Meyerle stated that there is grain currently available to the ADM market today, however, they see an additional infrastructure as adding value to the local farming community to handle the increase in crop production over time. This facility will be able to handle bigger crops faster. They do currently buy corn from this area and have a long history and good relationships in this area and they look at this as being able to capture the increase in crops and crop size due to Floyd County’s stable crop growth in addition to having a good strategic partner with Iowa Northern who will ship to Cedar Rapids.
Board Member Gohr reiterated his concerns on the road issue and where the County would be able to obtain funds to improve this road. Board Member Fluhrer stated that he could not see how this road could ever be paved with the houses and trees that are currently located there because you will need to take property to expand the road in order to add shoulders, putting the road closer to the houses. ADM inquired if Floyd County had any precedent of a business coming in and how they dealt with inadequate road issues. Administrator Sherman stated that the ethanol plant, but the road was already a hard surface road. Board Member Angela Ruzicka added that even though the ethanol plant is on a paved surface and trucks were not allowed to use a nearby gravel road, the trucks still do.
Discussion was had regarding the concerns of train cars blocking the road. It was determined that ADM would have 25 cars and 2 sets of tracks for these 25 cars to sit while they are being loaded so this would be no more of an issue than anywhere else. Discussion was had regarding direct access from the Avenue of the Saints through Avon Avenue instead of through 180th Street. It was determined that this would require approval through the DOT and it is unlikely they would approve it as they are starting to close off some of the roads around Charles City now. Discussion was had concerning the wildlife habitat and ADM stated that they have planted trees before that can muffle the sound. The property owners present were still in strong opposition to the project regardless of what options ADM offered to abate some of their concerns. Discussion was had concerning property taxes being raised but the actual value of the property going down due to this facility. It was determined that hard surfaced roads do increase the assessed value for the first acre of rural residences but agricultural is assessed based on production. In turn, this could raise the property taxes depending on what your levy rates are.
Board Member Fluhrer inquired as to whether it would be an option to table their decision and visit the site. It was determined that this would be an option but their site visit would be a public meeting and would be subject to the same notice requirements as their regular meetings. Board Member Gohr stated that he would also like the property owners’ input during the site visit so they can physically look at their issues during the site visit. It was determined that the soonest the Board could meet would be two weeks from today due to notice requirements, but Assistant Day wanted to check with the County Engineer before scheduling the next hearing date.
Discussion was had concerning electricity. Alliant Energy would be providing additional service for their facility which would also benefit local users. A concern was brought up about how much more of the land would be taken for the utility poles in addition to possible expansion of the road. ADM stated that this was a good point and they would be looking into it.
A motion to table the conditional use request to a time where the Board could meet at the site was made by Bill Fluhrer and seconded by Dennis Staudt. Roll call vote was taken and the motion was unanimously approved.
B. Assistant Day provided the Board with the new Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance. She also updated the Board on the Planning & Zoning Commission activities during 2011 including 2 hearings on the Carville Subdivision off of Windfall Avenue, 1 hearing for Galen Hicok who split off a portion of his property to build a new home, and 1 hearing on the Molstead Preliminary Subdivision Plat. Discussion was also had regarding the Board of Adjustments’ standards when approving or denying an application and Assistant Day directed them to page 100 of the County Zoning Ordinance.
VI. Adjourn. Motion to close the hearing was made by Dennis Staudt and was seconded by Bill Fluhrer.
Jeff D. Sherman