Six public hearings started the Nov. 22 Shenandoah City Council meeting, with action being deferred on all but one.
During Tuesday evening's meeting, City Administrator AJ Lyman said the council was being asked to defer action on the Urban Renewal Plan and several development agreements because the city had not received approval from the Secretary of State on the annexation of two parcels of land in Fremont County within the city limits.
Resolutions deferred to the Tuesday, Dec. 6 meeting were:
• Determining an area of the city to be an economic development and blighted area and that the rehabilitation, conservation, redevelopment, development or a combination thereof, of such area is necessary in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare of the residents of the city; designating such area as appropriate for urban renewal projects; and adopting Amendment No. 4 to the Amended and Restated Shenandoah Urban Renewal Plan.
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• Approving a development agreement between the City of Shenandoah and Shenandoah Senior Villas.
•Approving a development agreement between the City of Shenandoah and Community 1st Credit Union.
•Approving a development agreement between the City of Shenandoah and Green Plains Shenandoah, LLC.
•Approving a development agreement between the City of Shenandoah and MALOJA, LLC.
For the city to proceed with the Urban Renewal Plan and development agreements, Lyman said he and Shenandoah Mayor Roger McQueen would meet with the Fremont County Board of Supervisors during their Wednesday morning meeting seeking their permission to include these two parcels in the Urban Renewal Plan Amendment.
After meeting with the supervisors on Wednesday morning, Lyman reported that Fremont County recognized the land would be annexed at a future date, supported the Urban Renewal Plan and signed the city's agreement. While the city still needs the Secretary of State's approval on finalizing the annexation, Lyman said it will not hold up this portion of the Urban Renewal Plan and development agreements since the city now has the Fremont County Board of Supervisors support.
During the public hearings, several questions were asked by Shenandoah residents on two of the pending development agreements.
Principle with North Star Housing LLC, Andrew Danner, said identifying asbestos in the current building on the property located at 1401 W. Sheridan Ave., where the Shenandoah Senior Villas will be constructed once the existing building is torn down, was an unexpected expense. He said crews are expected to mobilize from another job site to Shenandoah soon and he projected construction to take 15 months, due to starting the project in the winter. He said several utility poles still needed to be relocated by MidAmerican Energy before the site work could begin.
Danner was asked about underground gas tanks that were once on the property. He said those had been removed approximately 20 years ago and there was an existing agreement with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for the full cleanup of those tanks. He said the previous existence of tanks on the property had been addressed before North Star Housing LLC purchased the land.
He said the Shenandoah Senior Villas complex proposal includes 40 two-bedroom one-bathroom units that would rent for between $330 and $695 per month.
“We appreciate the City of Shenandoah and everything that they’ve done to help us along this process,” Danner said. “The city council, AJ and the city staff, the community development, it's been a long time coming. This was a tough one to get done with the construction delays and project cost issues across construction in general. I think everybody understands that.”
Eric Hakmiller, Sr. Vice President of Clean Sugar Technologies for Green Plains LLC, also fielded questions from those in attendance Tuesday evening and shared the clean sugar process and downstream opportunities.
“So when we grow corn, 72% of a bushel of corn is starch,” Hakmiller explained. “Starch, when you put it with enzymes or acids, turns into sugars. So in the ethanol plant, we have in Shenandoah, we convert the starch into sugar. At the same time, we have the yeast consume that sugar and produce alcohol. So, this process, we’ll be able to separate the starch before we get the fermentation, which then we’ll be able to make dextrose and glucose. We call it sugar and it truly is a sugar, but it's dextrose and glucose. It's not the kind of sugar you put in your coffee.”
Hakmiller said once glucose is produced, the plant will be able to make the same product a corn wet-miller can, but will implement a simpler process that is gentler on the environment. He said other corn wet-milling facilities use a “very expensive, very energy intense process to purify a dextrose stream.”
“Once I have that sugar, I can sell it as glucose to food users around the country, so candy, lots of food uses different kinds of glucose,” Hakmiller said.
However, Hakmiller said the market for glucose in the future is “developing basically fermented chemistry that mimics what's done in petroleum, but we can make chemicals and plastics out of petroleum.”
He said this century will become the century of fermentation, “where we can do a lot of that same chemistry using renewable products grown here in Iowa and producing the same kind of chemical at a much lighter impact to the environment.”
Hakmiller described the project in Shenandoah as a “building block project.”
“We will develop this product here, which will then attract other companies to Shenandoah to use our product on a logistic basis,” Hakmiller said.
He said other major companies are expected to build around the plant and use the products produced in Shenandoah, bringing jobs, tax revenue and other products to Shenandoah.
By a unanimous vote, the council did approve the sale of city-owned property located at 300 Pine St. to Nishna Productions for $1,000 following the public hearing. This sale is contingent upon the completion of an environmental review.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a 180-day extension on a rehab contract for 208 E. Sheridan Ave. to David Gutierrez. The previous rehab contract expired on Nov. 10.
• Approved amending Ordinance No. 2008-09, 2015-14, 2020-01 as corrected by 2020-01A and 2020-06 and set a public hearing for Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. This is for a TIF ordinance.
• Approved the fiscal year 2022 annual finance report to the Iowa Department of Management/State Auditor.
• Approved a street closure request from the Shenandoah Chamber and Industry Association on Saturday, Nov. 26, during the Night the Lights Come On event.