Minutes of Board of Adjustment’s Hearing held on March 12, 2012.
I. Call to Order. Meeting was called to order at 1:30 p.m. Board members present were John Gohr, Bill Fluhrer, and Ann Sullivan. Also present were Jeff Sherman, Zoning Administrator, and Misty Day, Assistant Zoning Administrator. Roll call of Board members was taken and three (3) out of five (5) members were present with Board Members Dennis Staudt and Angela Ruzicka being absent.
II. New Business.
A. A second hearing on a conditional use request by Archer Daniels Midland Company to have a grain terminal facility on a 34.56 acre parcel of land located in the SW¼ of Section 29, Township 96 North, Range 18 West of the 5th P.M., Rockford, Township. The meeting began with a site visit to the subject parcel. ADM had the proposed location of the facility staked out for the site visit which was approximately 1,200-1,500 feet from the road right-of-way. The County Engineer Dusten Rolando was present for the site visit and gave an update regarding his recommendation to pave the road and what the initial plans would entail. Discussion was had regarding the poor condition of 180th Street and County Engineer Rolando mentioned that his road grater had been down this road last week to prepare the road for a load of new gravel. Many of the residents that live on this road expressed concerns that the plans for new gravel were strictly in anticipation for ADM’s proposed facility as this road has received very little attention in the past. County Engineer Rolando stated that he has a record in his office with all the dates of service and anyone could contact his office for that record as well as to let them know if the road needs to be serviced at any time. The Board of Adjustment recessed the meeting and announced that they would meet back at the City Hall in Nora Springs.
B. Meeting was called to order after reconvening at the City Hall in Nora Springs. Board members present were John Gohr, Bill Fluhrer, and Ann Sullivan. Also present were Jeff Sherman, Zoning Administrator, and Misty Day, Assistant Zoning Administrator. Roll call of Board members was taken and three (3) out of five (5) members were present with Board Members Dennis Staudt and Angela Ruzicka being absent. Aaron Schlenker, Greg Eide, Aaron Meyerle, and Michael Means were present on behalf of Archer Daniels Midland Company a/k/a ADM. Property owners and interested parties Janet & David Fullerton, Todd & Linda Sliger, Dustin & Laura Howe, Jim & Rhonda Howe, Mike Sinning, Charles Fink, Jeremy Hobbs, Debra Engels, Jason Engels, Criss Miller, Grant Cunningham, Brad Sabin, Jerry Miller, Wayne LaCoste, Brent Weiner, Gary Weiner, Doug H., Billy Fett, Virgil Fett, Wayne Jansen, Jim Frisbie, Walter Wendland, Richard Weiner, Robert Weiner, Gary Veeder, and Curt Strong were present for the hearing, as well as Attorney David Grooters, County Supervisors Doug Kamm and Mark Kuhn, Tim Fox with Charles City Area Development, and Globe Gazette Reporter Mary Pieper. Chair Ann Sullivan inquired as to whether ADM had anything they wanted to add. Aaron Meyerle stated that they are confident in benefits that the project will add to the local farming community, they are excited to be a part of the Floyd County business community, and they ask the Board to take into consideration the jobs, commerce and tax base this project will bring into Floyd County.
Board Member John Gohr noted the receipt of two communications, one letter in opposition from Cartersville Elevator and one letter in support from Tim Fox with Charles City Area Development. Board Member Gohr identified four issues he felt needed to be addressed: 1) The water line running across the road which the County Engineer said he would take care of; 2) The road needs to be a hard surfaced road as approved by the County Engineer; 3) How the County is going to pay for the road, which is not something that will be decided by this Board but rather something they need to take into consideration; and 4) The trees owned by Todd and Linda Sliger and a stipulation regarding a buffer. Board Member Gohr asked ADM to address the concerns regarding a tree buffer and whether that was something they would be able to do. Aaron Meyerly stated they have done that in the past but they would have to look at the specifics and possible location of that buffer for this specific site. Michael Means added that the placement of the buffer on the West side of the tracks may not be the most feasible location, so they would have to look at the specifics.
Discussion was had regarding property taxes. Administrator Sherman spoke with County Assessor Bruce Hovden who said the property taxes will depend entirely on the valuation of the property and a hard surfaced road is only going to affect residential and not farm ground. Assessor Hovden did say that taxes could go up but they could also go down if ADM affects property values, but it really depends on the market and he could not say for sure how a paved road would impact property taxes at this time.
Chair Ann Sullivan asked Tim Fox as to whether ADM reciprocated on any of his proposals regarding the road improvement project and financing same. Mr. Fox deferred to ADM to answer that question. Aaron Meyerly asked that the Board consider what the project brings and what the project does to the tax base and at this point they are not pledging anything above and beyond that. Mr. Meyerly stated that ADM is willing to work with the County for the treatment of 180th Street as a gravel road for its lifespan starting with facility construction. Additionally they will engage the County in dialogue for the best future considering the condition of 180th Street. Board Member Bill Fluhrer asked ADM to clarify regarding where the $575,000.00 that is still needed for the road project after the County’s TIFF money will come from and Aaron Meyerly stated that again they would ask the County to keep in mind the tax base that this facility would bring. Board Member Fluhrer inquired as to whether they would be receiving a tax break for several years and Tim Fox clarified that ADM would be eligible under the Floyd County Urban Revitalization Program, whereby any entity in the unincorporated area of Floyd County that spends half a million dollars and increases the assessed valuation of the property by 10% is eligible for a three year 100% tax exemption meaning they would not have to pay property taxes for three years. ADM has opted not to pursue that exemption.
Attorney David Grooters gave a packet to the Board in opposition to the request and gave a presentation outlining the objections. The packet included a petition objecting to the request which was signed by many local residents, a map showing the location of nine residents within 1.5 miles of the subject parcel, a map showing thirteen grain elevators and ethanol plants as far away as 28 miles from the subject parcel, current disbursement allocations for these facilities, a letter from Janet Fullerton regarding her concerns relating to her in-home daycare facility located ¼ mile from the subject parcel, and a list of other concerns including increased truck traffic, the cost and upkeep associated with paving the road or increased upkeep if left as a gravel road, damage and possible replacement of a bridge to the East of the facility if truck traffic comes from this direction and not just from the West, and the TIFF money being taken from other important projects to be used for the paving project on 180th Street if the project is approved. Attorney David Grooters stated that the truck traffic of 150 trucks per day during harvest season would be the equivalent of a truck going down this road every three (3) minutes, or every fifteen (15) minutes for the 30 trucks expected during the off season. Mr. Grooters also talked about the quality of life for the residents in close proximity being lowered, as well as the loss of peace due to daytime disturbance from noise and dust. Mr. Grooters requested that a feasibility study be done to answer some of these what if questions including environmental factors, quality of life impact, job loss to other businesses as a result of this facility, and other concerns that have been expressed.
Board Member Gohr talked about the concerns of the road being moved closer to the existing houses and it was his understanding from what the County Engineer had told them at the site that the road would not be moved closer if they designed it the way he talked about at the site and the chemicals from the dust control methods would only be an issue if it were left as a gravel road, but everyone could plainly see that a gravel road would not work for this facility. Board Member Gohr also stated that he did not feel it was the Board’s job to limit competition to other businesses in the area. Discussion was had regarding a study and how it could determine the impact on other businesses and whether jobs would be lost. Chair Sullivan stated that she did not know how long they should keep ADM waiting by requiring this study and she also wondered who would pay for such a study.
An inquiry was made regarding financing the road and whether Floyd County taxpayers can really be expected to fund a road for a private entity like ADM. Board Member Gohr stated that funding is a major concern, but that is something that will have to be determined by the Board of Supervisors if this project is approved. An inquiry was made as to why the County’s money would be used for this project and not used for the 6 bridges in the County that need to be fixed or other roads that already have problems. Board Member Gohr stated again that would be up to the Board of Supervisors, but this Board can approve the project with a stipulation that the road needs to be paved but that would be up to the Supervisors to figure out how it will be paid for. An inquiry was made as to whether the Board could require a feasibility study to be done as a condition of approval. Assistant Misty Day stated that the Board could make that a condition as they just approved a cell tower upon the condition that an environmental study came back with no issues. Discussion was had regarding how long a feasibility study would take and it was determined they could make their approval conditional and if the Board felt it was taking too long to accomplish they could waive that condition at a subsequent meeting. Discussion was had concerning what the study would entail and it was determined that it would address as many of the concerns outlined by Attorney Grooters as it could. Board Member Gohr asked Tim Fox if he could enlighten the Board regarding feasibility studies. Tim Fox stated that the hardest thing is to find someone who is qualified and who is also neutral. Board and public discussion was closed.
A motion to approve the conditional use request by Archer Daniels Midland Company to have a grain terminal facility on a 34.56 acre parcel of land located in the SW¼ of Section 29, Township 96 North, Range 18 West of the 5th P.M., Rockford, Township, was made by John Gohr upon the conditions that 1) the water line that runs through the road be taken care of per conversations with the County Engineer during the site visit; 2) the road must be a hard surfaced road per the specifications of the County Engineer, the payment of such road must reflect back to the Board of Supervisors, and the project will die if the Supervisors can not figure out how to fund the road improvement project; and 3) a buffer zone to the property to the East must be addressed. The motion was seconded by Ann Sullivan. Roll call vote was taken and the motion was unanimously approved.
III. Adjourn. Motion to close the hearing was made by Bill Fluhrer and was seconded by John Gohr.
Jeff D. Sherman