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Cedar Rapids City Council approves rezoning for Cargill railyard

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) - The Cedar Rapids City Council approved rezoning for a 28-acre property on the southeast side of town Tuesday night, allowing agriculture company Cargill to build a railyard to help with operations at its Cedar Rapids plant.

Neighbors have been fighting these plans for most of 2019, worried about environmental impacts to the Cedar River and nearby Prairie Park Fishery, as well as noise pollution and the values of their homes.

"I've heard council choose the path of industrial growth over people's lives," Tonya Sotelo said, who lives nearby the recently rezoned parcel.

The city, Cargill and neighbors have been referring to this property as the "Stewart Road Property," as it sits southeast of the intersection of Stewart Road and Otis Ave in the Rompot neighborhood.

Cargill had considered using another plot to the north referred to as the "Farm Property," just west of Cedar Valley Park. Cargill will now be filling that land with pollinators to compensate for building on the Stewart Road site.

Cargill shifted to the Stewart Road Property in September, after council denied a proposal at the Farm Property in late August. Some neighbors began to favor the project at its new site.

Many feel this had the effect of splitting the community.

"What Cargill did to our neighborhood was divide us," Angela Gillis said, a resident in the Rompot neighborhood.

Cargill got third party companies to study many of the areas of concern, like air quality, noise levels and home depreciation. Each study reported minimal impact to homeowners.

As Cargill progresses with construction of the railyard, it is required to host up to four more meetings with the community to discuss their concerns.

"We will protect Prairie (Park) Fisheries and work hard to minimize the impact to those that live close by," Mayor Brad Hart said, voicing his support for the plan.

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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