The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 8, 2014

Railpark land zoning up for debate

CLINTON — The Lincolnway Industrial Railpark currently covers about 500 acres of land along U.S. 30. The master plan, though, covers nearly the entire westward region of the city.

That area was the subject of this week’s Plan Commission session. Clinton planning specialist Jacob Couppee brought forth the issue that, with exception to the railpark itself and several small parcels in the area, the commission could consider rezoning the land back to A-1 Agricultural. Right now, the area is M-3 Industrial, placing certain restrictions upon property owners.

Couppee said he “fully supports” considering a rezone, and the nearby Clinton Municipal Airport considers “all land not zoned M-3 Industrial” to be a good thing for the facility’s purposes.

However, in the eyes of several committee members, it appeared fruitless to rezone land now when no one knows what will eventually happen to the railpark.

“In my view, you’re removing developable land for use in the railpark,” said Tom Lonergan of the commission. “And I think we’re taking a step backwards if we rezone it agricultural again.”

The counterargument came from Robert Allmandinger, who said landowners are prevented from doing basic things under their current zones.

“Realistically, if it takes a long time, I get back to the situation where the people that are around that area can’t add additions to their houses,” Allmandinger said. “They can’t sell their property. If their house burns down, they can’t rebuild it.”

As for said property owners — no one could really say. Wednesday’s discussion over their land lacked possibly the most important input.

And with no property owners present — or desiring a rezone from the commission’s standpoint — it was difficult to make a ruling for any argument. That’s why the plan commission has postponed the argument until someone within the area comes forth with an issue regarding their property’s zoning. The motion put forth by Lonergan passed unanimously.

“It seems a little bit odd that there aren’t landowners here asking for this,” said commission member Jeff Stoller, adding city planning would be addressing “a hypothetical” by ruling to rezone.

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