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City Council halts Cargill’s plan for new rail yard in Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) – The Cedar Rapids City Council failed to approve Cargill Corn Milling’s request for an “essential services” declaration Tuesday night. The agriculture company must now go back to the drawing board and resubmit a plan.

The declaration would have allowed Cargill’s plan to move through council quicker but it also would’ve let council monitor it closer; like through holding them accountable on nine requirements.

“If Cargill just rezoned the property, hardly any of those restrictions could be placed on the property,” Mayor Brad Hart said.

The nine requirements included things like hours of operation, quiet zones and number of community input meetings.

“This is probably the most controversial decision this council has faced in the past 19 months,” Mayor Hart said.

People in the Rompot neighborhood of Cedar Rapids have been opposing this plan for months. They’re worried about their home values, as well as environmental and noise concerns.

“I would like to see this get delayed or tabled until all parties can speak openly and honestly,” Rompot resident Rick Stanek said.

“It’s an industrial intrusion into this neighborhood. Make them go through rezoning if that’s what you think they need to do,” Iowa State Senator Robert Hogg, D-Linn County, said Tuesday.

A City Planning Commission recommended council approve the initial phases of the plan, last month with the essential services tag.

People did speak in support of the plan, though; citing the jobs Cargill brings to the area.

“It’s an agricultural community and we need to feed those that are feeding us,” Pipe Pro employee Dave Huston said.

Cargill has been looking to add this rail yard since November 2018, so it could switch rail cars easier as parts of its daily operations. Residents, the agriculture company, and city staff had looked at other locations, including one nearby off of Stewart Road.

Residents have suggested Cargill use its current property, or a plot adjacent to it off of 10th Avenue. But Cargill has said repeatedly the lot off of Otis Road Southeast is positioned best along current rail lines, and is the only lot with enough space to switch cars

 

 

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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