Benton County updates its guidelines for reopening

Benton Supervisors meet with Sheriff Ron Tippett

Land use ordinance is debated on proposed seed operation

VINTON – Benton County updated its guidelines for opening the courthouse and other facilities at the June 9 meeting of the Benton County Board of Supervisors.

Julie Hessenius, Clerk of Court, told the board that the judge stressed that if the public is let into the courthouse, they have to have access to the restrooms. The proposed guidelines originally closed the restrooms to the public.

Hessenius said they are having court now, but mainly by appointment. They still do business remotely. Court is held on Thursdays. She added Benton County is doing a great job keeping their employees safe.

Supervisor Chairman Richard Primmer predicted that those who need to use the restroom will need to be escorted.

Primmer recommended striking closing of the restrooms from the guidelines, and recommend the rooms be scrubbed down more frequently. The board agreed the restrooms remain open. The final draft was approved and was to be released to the pubic.

Seed operation proposal

Matt, Johnny and Steve Becker were at the meeting regarding a development that does not fall within the county guidelines, according to Primmer.

The proposed property is 1 ½ miles west of the Keystone corner on Highway 30. They want to split off for a building site, which will house a seed operation. While it uses farm land, Steve Becker stressed this is an agricultural business, and the location is the best fit for the community.

Land Use Administrator Marc Greenlee explained it is an agricultural-related business, but it is not an agricultural use, according to the county’s ordinance. He added this is on 95 CSR land, which is good farm ground. The difference is between producing food and fiber, and processing food and fiber. He said it’s a difficult call.

Primmer saw it as a “chicken and egg” situation. “How do you have corn if you don’t have seed corn?” he asked.

It was pointed out that the current property owners could put up the building, and then lease it. The problems with the ordinance arise from the land being parceled off and sold. It is a decision to be made by the board of adjustment. Primmer asked if this could go to the board adjustment with the board’s blessing.

Greenlee stressed it is the board’s job to uphold the ordinance. If the board gave its blessing to the board of adjustment, that would politicize the process. “The bottom line is that the ordinance, as it is written, is supposed to be upheld by whoever is that in a position of authority to deal with it. That’s what my job is, and that’s what your job is … If we don’t like the ordinance, then we should change it.”

Steve Becker said they would figure something out, saying, “If that’s the law, that’s the law.”

Primmer responded that the Beckers aren’t the only ones who have been discouraged in the county. Others have been turned down who wanted to do things in the county.

Preston Station

The board signed a historic register nomination for Preston’s Station, Belle Plaine. A hearing was held. It is seen as an excellent project. They are asking to be placed in the National Register. This will help them with funding for the future. Another hearing was planned with the state to be officially nominated. The site has a lot of history, it was said, and it will be a real plus for Belle Plaine. “It would be really good to see it on the National Register,” Primmer observed.


The board approved a purchase agreement for temporary and permanent easement for bridge replacement project in Florence Twp on 75th St .

A resolution was approved for wage and classification change for Josh Svoboda .

The board approved a utility permit for Poweshiek Water Association in Leroy Township.

The board approved a utility permit for ECI REC in Harrison Township.

The board approved a utility permit for CenturyLink in Benton Township.

The board signed the title sheet for bridge replacement project on 24th Ave. Dr., Harrison Township.

The board signed a new title sheet for bridge replacement project on 53rd St., Cedar Township.

Other business

A land use hearing was set for Brandon and Jennica Jordan for land in Section 27, Benton Township, at Tuesday, July 7, at 9:15 a.m. A hearing was set for Larry Koster for land in Section 28, Leroy Township, at Tuesday, July 7, at 9:30 a.m.

Votes were canvassed from the primary election. The board also signed the post-election audit.

Beth Geater was approved as a clerk in the treasurer’s office, at a starting salary of $30,000. There was 37 applications.

A three-year agreement was signed with Cost Advisory Services.

Sheriff Ron Tippett recommending hiring Jamie Lee Davidson as a part-time communications specialist.

Security cameras were explained, as well as the use of data in the discussion on claims.

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