Supervisors discuss property line matter, usage of former courthouse Sheriff's office space and communications tower location

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, December 18 to address a full agenda of items, including the discussion of a site plan for an Alliant Energy and Interstate Power Communication Tower, a Hazard Mitigation plan presentation and discussion of joining other counties in support of litigation against opioid manufacturers. Chairperson Larry Schellhammer called the meeting to order with the current agenda and meeting minutes of December 11 being approved.

During Public Comment, Andrea Carstens addressed the Supervisors with concerns regarding the confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Clayton County that will handle 10,000 head of cattle and the impact this CAFO will have through contamination, run-off and water usage. Carstens discussed that the CAFO will be drawing a substantial amount of water from the aquifer at 25 gallons per cow equaling 250,000 gallons per day, accounting for over 91,000,000 gallons in a single year for this one CAFO's operations.

Carstens indicated that the permit for the facility was attained at a low cost, making this water usage a hidden subsidy for this CAFO and a missed opportunity for Clayton County to generate revenue. Carstens indicated that she was addressing the Allamakee County Supervisors due to their influence, even though this is an operation outside of Allamakee County.

The Supervisors moved into discussion of the property line at 888 State Highway 9 involving property owned by Dave Newton. Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake presented maps and discussed the property line, which had moved due to the relocation of the highway some years ago and the State purchasing right-of-way 27 feet into the property, which did not match the fence line.

Newton has expressed interest in establishing where the property line is at through either having the County deed or sell him the small section of property to the fence line or having the line identified with stakes. Allamakee County Attorney Jill Kistler discussed the procedure involved in selling the property, advising that gifting the property would be against policy. The Supervisors agreed that no action would be taken other than establishing the location of the property line.

The Supervisors discussed the Resolution to join other counties in support of litigation against opioid manufacturers. Kistler indicated that the Iowa Association of Counties (ISAC) has recommended joining this legal action and that several counties have chosen to pass resolutions to join the litigation with a few counties opting not to join for a variety of reasons, including the limited impact from the over-prescribing of opioids within their county, likely financial returns being low and concerns that this litigation is not a meaningful way to bring about social change regarding the matter. Kistler recommended to not join the litigation at this early stage, with the Supervisors in agreement and no action being taken at this time.

Waukon Police Chief Phil Young discussed the Waukon Police Department's request for storage space in the Allamakee County Courthouse fourth floor in the space formerly occupied by the Allamakee County Sheriff's Department. Young discussed the need for additional space for storage, with the 12-foot by 16-foot northwest corner cell as an option for locked evidence storage. Young indicated that the existing door would need to be replaced with a solid door with a window.

Supervisor Dan Byrnes suggested that the Waukon Police Department would need to pay for required changes and have a formal agreement with minimal rent. Schellhammer indicated that the County will work with the Waukon Police Department to reach an agreement to utilize this space.

The Supervisors moved into a closed session to discuss strategy with the County Bargaining Representatives for upcoming collective bargaining negotiations between Allamakee County and its Secondary Roads Unit and the Sheriff's Department Unit. This closed session is specifically authorized pursuant to Section 20.17(3) of the Code of Iowa and is exempt from Chapter 21 requirements.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour and Blake discussed the site plan for the Alliant Energy and Interstate Power Communications Tower and presented aerial maps depicting possible locations for the proposed tower. Ridenour indicated that an area 55 feet by 85 feet, approximately two acres, will be needed for construction. Blake discussed that a minimum two-thirds of the tower height will need to be used as a distance away from any other public facility and indicated that either location would likely be acceptable to the Board of Adjustment.

Ridenour, Blake and the Supervisors discussed the impact either proposed location would have upon cropland or farming activity at the County farm. Ridenour recommended the location northwest of the existing tower as the least disruptive to farming activity. The Supervisors were in agreement and provided that location as their recommendation for the project.

The Supervisors reviewed the 2017 Weed Commissioner's Report and then approved it as presented. The Supervisors also approved voiding outstanding warrants.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer discussed the Howard County proposal regarding County Social Services (CSS) employee vehicle use. Beyer indicated that Howard County has proposed to pay Allamakee County 40 cents per mile, Allamakee's mileage rate, for the use of the County car in the performance of CSS work-related travel. The Supervisors decided to take no action at this time.

Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed adding a line item to the County's budget to account for hazardous materials spill costs associated with response and clean-up. Snitker recommended a $10,000 line item for these potential costs, which is minimal in comparison to other counties, allowing for payment of expenses before receiving reimbursement from the company or business responsible for a spill.

Regional Planner Michelle Barness with Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC) and Snitker then provided an overview of the Allamakee County Hazard Mitigation Plan, involving the detailed analysis and planning involved in reducing or eliminating the long-term risk to people and property from natural or manmade hazards and their effects. Waukon, Waterville, Postville, New Albin, Lansing, Harpers Ferry and the unincorporated areas of Allamakee County have participated in this planning process. The hour-long presentation detailed hazards, disasters, goals, objectives and mitigation actions.

Under Department Head Updates, Director Jim Janett with Allamakee County Conservation discussed the reappointment of a Conservation Board member and the recent district meeting as being well attended. Beyer discussed that the next Board of Supervisors meeting will take place Wednesday, December 27 due to the Christmas holiday.

After a short recess for lunch, the Supervisors and Beyer traveled to Morgan Bridge Road to view the site of a proposed ditch clean-out project that had been previously discussed at the December 11 Supervisors meeting. The County’s jurisdiction in cleaning out this ditch has been established but property owner Don Hitchins has expressed concerns about the depth in which neighboring ditches have been cleaned out not matching the depth of culverts, creating issues.

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