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Fremont County Supervisors discuss proposed drainage district
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Fremont County Supervisors discuss proposed drainage district

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Fremont County Supervisors discuss proposed drainage district

The Fremont County Board tackled a number of agenda items at their last regularly scheduled meeting of the month on Oct. 27, but the big one was a discussion of a proposed drainage district.

Ann Andrews had visited with the board prior to the meeting so was not present to discuss the American Relief Plan Funds meeting so the board moved to the next agenda item.

There was a lengthy discussion in the packed boardroom about the proposed drainage district at the Highway 2 and Interstate-29 corridor. 

Les Robbins, Crossroads Development and a property owner on the corner of Highway 2 and Interstate 29, spoke first. He introduced those in attendance, and most of those present were property owners at the corner of Highway 2 and Interstate 29. He thanked the board for their continued support for the development of the corridor area.

“If not for you, it couldn’t be what it is today. I truly thank you,” he said.

Robbins added that the corner has grown in the past 20 years into a development with a property value worth over $15 million and among other things, it provides sales tax support for the county.

“The drainage district idea came about two years ago when there was an idea to put a levee around the corridor to protect Highway 2. When it overflowed with water in 2019, it essentially closed down the corridor. It shut down the whole corner. We don’t want it to ever happen again. The Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) spent millions of dollars improving west of there to the Missouri River, elevating the roadway and getting it prepared for the next flood. The missing link is Highway 2 right there and without elevating it or putting a berm around it, it will flood again. Without the IDOT financially supporting this it could never happen. It’s in the long-term interest of the corridor to do this. It provides the protection we need.” 

Scott Schram with the IDOT was on speaker phone to take part in the meeting. He told the board, “Our goal is to bring out the level of service for Highway 2 to match that of Interstate 29.”  Schram went on to describe the need and why the levee is important to the area. 

Matt Woods, attorney, represents the proposed drainage district. He gave a background of how the proposed district came about, what has happened and what the proceedings are moving forward.

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“The petition was filed a year ago in October with 14 of the 18 property owners signing. The idea of this meeting is to discuss the report and the findings given to the board by the engineer, Jim Olmstead,” he said.

Woods said that the board will be asked to adopt the report and then he explained the steps necessary for a public hearing. Woods also listed the legalities and the process and procedures that would be followed. “As you know, the board appointed Olmstead firms (Olmsted & Perry Consulting Engineers Inc.) to look at this drainage district.” Woods turned the floor over to Jim Olmstead. 

“This levee is a bit different than what we usually see. Our levees are usually agriculture related. It's a unique situation in southwest Iowa that protects the transportation corridor and commerce. We completed the study and submitted it a month ago. I am here to answer questions about that. This proposed levee district is intended to protect about 278 acres. It will require easements or land acquisitions of about 15 acres. When completed it should provide the level of protection that is needed to meet the goals of continuity of transportation and commerce in that area.”

One of the board’s major concerns was the cost of maintenance. Robbins told the supervisors that the cost of maintenance would be covered by the property owners. Supervisor Dustin Sheldon said he felt that the cost could come back on the county if owners close their business in the event of another flood. He also believes that money is best spent on how the river is managed, not necessarily a drainage district and levee. 

The supervisors asked several questions about the height of the levee, how far north the levee would go, ramifications of the direction of the drainage and subsurface plans. There were questions about how far north the levee would go and what would happen in the event of a heavy rain in a short amount of time.

Those in attendance took turns answering the questions and there continued to be considerable dialogue as the group tried to determine the best course of action. Olmstead assured them that they would have the ability to amend decisions made in the report and they could hold a public hearing to consider other ideas and address further concerns. 

In conclusion, the board requested that the engineers go back and reconfigure the north line of the levee so that it was not at a 90-degree angle but more of a gradual line. Olmstead will have a new proposal in a month and will present it to the supervisors at that time. As today was a discussion item only, no action was taken.

In additional business, the board made motions to: 

  • Approve the renewal of the liquor license for Sidney Foods
  • Approve the amendment to the Electronic Services System 28 Agreement regarding Iowa Land Records in Iowa 
    • When the 28E Agreement was originally established the Recorder’s Association administered it. Since that time the usage has become much larger and it was decided it was better for the Electronic Services System to manage it
  • Vote against abating taxes for the properties owned by Hamburg Economic Development as they are selling the properties

The next meeting for the Fremont County Board of Supervisors will be held on Nov. 3.   

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