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Two lawsuits against Cedar Rapids rail yard denied; state senator looking at appeals

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) - A district court judge denied this week the last of two lawsuits Iowa state Senator Rob Hogg filed against the city of Cedar Rapids for its decision to green-light a rail yard project on the city's southeast side.

Sen. Hogg, (D) Cedar Rapids, was an outspoken critic as the city council approved agriculture company Cargill for this project in December; calling it a heinous change to the city's zoning code and Future Land Use Map.

"We have a land use plan that all of the neighbors here relied on saying, 'this is a residential neighborhood,'" Hogg said.

While the judge dismissed Hogg's lawsuit against the city, he plans to submit a motion to reconsider both lawsuits next week. He believes that will be denied as well; so, an appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court is also on the table.

"If they can do it in our neighborhood, they can do it to any neighborhood in the state," Hogg said.

Another gripe Hogg has with the plan is that the property sits in the city's 200-year projected floodplain.

"The city said it would not sell property that is owned within the 200-year floodplain, including specifically this property," Hogg said.

When approving the project in December, city councilors said they were content with mitigation efforts Cargill had committed to on the site; like building a berm and planting trees to block its view from neighbors.

The Council also made Cargill test what effects the rail yard would have on noise pollution, water quality and air quality. Those studies all showed little to no impact but their validity was questioned by neighbors repeatedly.

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Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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