Following a June 17 work session regarding the property on 961 Meridian Street South, which houses Stier Trucking, an agriculturally-geared operation that sits among residential properties and stretches of farmland on the southern edge of Belle Plaine, the council reintroduced a conversation on Monday night, Aug. 19, to have the operation cease.

The property, which was recently acquired by the State Bank of Belle Plaine, was rezoned from farming and commercial use to medium-to-high density housing around 2008. A city memo states that all barns, sheds, silos, bins, and granaries located on the property were supposed to have been removed by the end of 2011.

At their June work session, the city had requested a resolution be drafted calling for the removal of the farm structures and elimination of non-conforming use of the property by June 1, 2020.

Chris Bowlen of Gislason & Hunerter LLP, the bank’s legal council, has argued that “it does not appear there is any factual argument under which the current use of the property can be said to have been illegal at the time it was commenced,” citing a history of non-action from the city regarding the property in question.

Bowlen argued that it was under those pretenses, along with a statement from the Community Development Director stating that its current use, which has not halted for more than a year, could continue, that the bank entered into a lease and purchase agreement to sell the property to Brad Stier.

“On its face, it appears that the city is attempting to take action because the property is now owned by the bank instead of [the previous owner],” Bowlen wrote in a memo to the city.

The State Bank, in turn, came forward with a five-year plan to remove the farm structures and to cease operations.

Councilman Cary Coop, citing door-to-door visits with those who live near the operation, stated that neighbors are upset with the debris that ends up on their property and advocated for the one-year plan.

Councilman Ben Stier advocated for the five-year plan.

No vote was taken as the conversation took place during a work session, but a formal action will be voted on at a future meeting.

Robert Vose, the city’s attorney, stated that the city has a strong legal case that would allow them to enforce a one-year plan.

Ice Rink Project

The city awarded  Mohs Contracting, Inc. the contract to construct an ice rink project in Hickory Park. The roughly $1 million project is set for a December completion date.

Housing Updates

Rental duplexes on Court Street East earned conditional approval for development. The city voted to allow accessory dwelling units that attach to existing homes no smaller than 300 square feet and no larger than 900 square feet or 40% of the principal structure.

Budget and Levy

In a work session Monday night, the Belle Plaine City Council hashed out several details pertaining to the upcoming 2020 primary budget and levy approval.

Among several highlights to a 2020 preliminary budget include carving out around $48,000 to add an event manager role. City staff and officials stated Monday that the move could help facilitate efficient use of the Belle Plaine Aquatic Center, the future skating rink and the under-utilized parks around the city. The position, as described by the budget memo, would involve the termination of the contract the city has with the Belle Plaine School District.

Amy Jirik, the city’s financial director, highlighted a range of items set to be budgeted for in the city’s general fund, including a little over $11,000 allotted for police department building maintenance and other expenses.

Overall, Belle Plaine’s tax rate could be slated to increase by 4.034%, the majority of which stems from the aquatic center project. Broken down, 3.578% of the increase is due to the pool, and .46% stems from an increased levy. These numbers reflect what homeowners can expect to pay if their home values stay the same.

The median home value for Belle Plaine  for 2020 is expected to hover just over $220,000, or about a 7% increase over 2019’s $205,500 median. City documents describing the possible preliminary budget and levy state that the majority of residential property owners will see a change ranging from an increase of about $120-306 in taxes payable. About $70-87 of that increase is from the aquatic center bond.

The city council is set to vote on a preliminary budget and levy at their Sept. 3 meeting.

Pool Schedule

Sunday, Aug. 25: 1-5 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 26: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 28: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 30: 11 a.m.-3  p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 31: 1-5 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 1: 1-5 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 2: 1-5 p.m.

Upcoming Meetings in September

• City Offices closed in observation of Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2

• Design Committee: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 5:15 p.m.

• City Council: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 6:30 p.m.

• Work Session: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 6:45 p.m.

• Community Conversations Entertainment and Food Truck Night at the Downtown Plaza:  Wednesday, Sept. 4, 5:00 -7:30 p.m.

• EDA: Monday, Sept. 9, 5:00 p.m.

• Planning: Monday, Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m.

• Public Safety: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 4:00 p.m.

• Public Works: Thursday, Sept. 12, 9:00 a.m.

(1) comment

I would like to see the results of the councilman city coop survey. I live on Cedar Street just behind the silos with the privacy hill in between. If any house gets directly affected by corn debris it's mine and my immediate neighbors. I am close with most of my neighbors and have had conversations about this situation. We are all in agreance that the Steirs are the best neighbors we have. We are all willing to deal with two weeks of corn dust in the fall for quite, respectful neighbors that give us the town living with the country feel. I get to watch the sunset over the silos every evening. Now I'll soon be looking into some third story windows of apartment buildings with 100+ new neighbors worried who's in my yard. What I have learned about Belle Plaine city council since moving here is that they only look out for their own agendas. This maybe the straw that breaks the houses back and have force my hand to give up on this town and move to the multiple options with lower city taxes, more amenities, and short commutes.

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