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Tempers flare as council advances Cargill’s plan for Cedar Rapids railyard

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) – The Cedar Rapids City Council stood behind agriculture giant Cargill Tuesday night, passing two measures to help it install a new railyard in the Rompot neighborhood of Cedar Rapids.

Council members voted unanimously to amend the city’s Future Land Use Map, changing Cargill’s target “Stewart Road Property” to urban high intensity. City leaders also passed the first reading for rezoning the land, which sits west of Cole Street SE and south of Otis Avenue SE.

Although Cargill has submitted third-party studies to the city on potential effects on noise, air quality and the neighbor’s property values, many view the proposal as an intrusion into a quiet neighborhood.

“All the things that we’ve done to try to safeguard our city, and be better stewards and better flood managers, and you’d make a decision to put an industrial railyard in the floodplain? That makes no sense,” Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg, (D) Cedar Rapids, said against the proposal.

“Although our future land use maps and zoning ordinances were meant to guide us, they were never intended to be a promise,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart said, explaining his reasoning for voting with Cargill. Hart also noted the council has approved 18 land use map amendments over the past seven years.

Sen. Hogg, who lives nearby the lot, has prodded city leaders at past meetings about the potential of compensating Rompot residents for their cooperation in the process. When he brought environmental concerns up to the council Tuesday night, council member Ashley Vanorny accused him of flip-flopping.

“Your response to me was, ‘This doesn’t bother you, you’re not concerned but you think that we should pay the neighbors each $1,000,” Vanorny said. “And then you came and grandstanded in front of us and told a different story about the environment,” she continued to Sen. Hogg.

The council must revisit the rezoning ordinance two more times before it is approved, the first coming up on Dec. 3.

 

 

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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