INDEPENDENCE – Plans for land ownership changes impacting the eastward expansion of Enterprise Drive hit a bump in the road at Monday’s City Council meeting.

While the arrangement with Independence Investments, LLC, the company working to create a new development that would include a new Rydell auto dealership near the corner of Highways 20 and 150, was unanimously approved, the proposed agreement with Casey’s passed 5-2, with Council Members Deb Hanna and Denny Vaughn dissenting. The Independence Investments agreement calls for Independence Investments to gift a certain amount of property to the City “for the purpose of constructing a public roadway and extending public utilities.” The contested agreement calls for the City to pay Casey’s $140,000 for a piece of adjacent property.

Council Members Bob Hill and Mike Lenius voiced concerns that to control the development of the area, the City should buy the land now.

“140,000, it’s a lot of money, I agree,” said Lenius, “but, … it’s the kind of money we have to spend to develop that area, like it or not.”

Vaughn said he was not against paying the $140,000 for the land, but felt developers, such as Independence Investments, should be responsible to put in a street following City codes.

City Manager Al Roder mentioned the issue had been discussed at the Committee of the Whole meeting held November 6, a point reiterated a few minutes later by Lenius. Roder also stated that by not purchasing the property, it would put the City in a “horrible liability position”, to which Vaughn said that was a “scare tactic.” Roder disagreed.

Hanna was concerned that the $140,000, plus future road construction costs, were not currently budgeted. Other Council Members and Roder felt that money spent now was a good investment toward receiving taxes from future development (in addition to the known Rydell project) of the area.

Another split vote occurred for the proposed addition of Chapter 25 Airport Board to the Independence Code of Ordinances. The Second Reading passed 5-2, with Hanna and Vaughn dissenting, after language was amended to have the Board’s ability limited to only making recommendations to the Council for contractual hiring of staff. The propose Chapter will be up for a Third and Final reading at the next City Council Meeting.

In other Council Business:

- Public Hearings were set for Monday, Nov. 27, to discuss amending Chapter 55 Animal Protection and Control; amending Chapter 56 Dangerous and Vicious Animals; to discuss the approval of Community Development and Housing needs and a CDBG Grant Application for a water system improvement project; and to discuss a proposal to enter into a Sewer Revenue Loan Agreement not to exceed $2,100,000.

- Approved a Resolution declaring support to the Iowa DOT for the Historic Route 20 project. A group is going state to state, town to town, to garner support from the appropriate local governing bodies to put up and maintain signage along Route 20 as it was from the mid 1920s. The hope is that places along the way will see an increase in tourism similar to the phenomenon of Route 66.

- Approved Independence Light & Power to complete a LED Lighting project.

- Approved the Teamsters Local 238 Public Works Union Contract from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.

- Approved the completion of the Self-Serve Fueling System installation at the Independence Municipal Airport.

- Approved the billing for each sidewalk repair at the rate of $62.05 to the property owner. This project was for Ward 2 property owners. Ward 3 is scheduled to be addressed next year.

- Approved a City of Independence Low to Moderate Income (LMI) Housing Plan.

- Declined the offer of composting equipment gifted from the City of Waverly. Council Member Mike O’Loughlin felt it was a “pig-in-a-poke” and there would be issues with maintenance of the used equipment and also brought up concerns about odor. Hanna cast a dissenting vote in the 1-6 decision.

- Approve the start of fundraising for a HitTrax System at RiversEDGE. The system is a baseball game simulator and would capture and analyze performance metrics for players.

The next regular City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 27 at City Hall.