By Jim Magdefrau
VINTON – Land use was the main topic for the Benton County Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday, Aug. 16, meeting in the conference room of the Benton County Service Center, Vinton.
A land use hearing was set for Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, 9:15 a.m., for Jeremy and Rachel Basham for land in Section 36, Benton Township.
A land use hearing was held for Ron Boyer for a new home in a part of parcel C, in Section 9, Canton Township. Land Use Administrator Marc Greenlee gave his technical review. The site is not in production, with sandy loam soil. The corn suitability (CSR) is 35 on a 100 scale. It has a new well. A new septic system is needed. The land use pattern is farms and rural residences. The board approved the land use change.
A land use hearing was held for Don Foltz, for land in Section 23, Benton Township. They plan to build a house and a shop on two acres. It is not in production. It is silt loam soil. The CSR is 50. A new driveway is needed, as well as a well and septic system. The land use pattern is acreages. The land adjoining is heavily forested. The land use change was approved.
The board considered a request to waive a performance bond for the radio project. The bond is $40,000. The project is $7.2 million. Supervisor Richard Primmer pointed out the bond is part of the contract. The waiver request was denied. They also discussed the detailed design review for the radio system project. The design was approved. This allows them to order the equipment.
Law enforcement contracts were approved with Keystone and Norway. The Keystone contract is for a total yearly sum of $8,450 with an average of 260 hours a year. The City of Norway’s contract is for a total yearly sum of $16,900 and 520 hours a year.
The board approved hiring two new full-time employees and one part-time employee for the sheriff’s department. Brannen Hudson was moved from part-time to full-time, as was Hayley Pringle. Owen Hanson is a new part-time employee. Sheriff Ron Tippett discussed the number of federal prisoners being held in the jail.
Dust control was discussed for a gravel road between 70th and 73rd Street, one mile south of Highway 30. This is for detoured traffic due to work on Highway 30. Engineer Myron Parizek explained the detours and how the Department of Transportation handles dust control. Dust control will probably be coordinated by the county. He said the DOT hopes to have all of the work done and open to traffic by 2024. Bids are being opened this winter for the remaining four to five miles of road work. Officials also discussed the impact on school traffic with the Van Horne-Blairstown intersection being closed. They hope school traffic sticks to the blacktop roads.
A wage and classification change was approved for Rod Schmuecker in secondary roads. His wage increases to $24.51 per hour.
The board tabled Chuck Yedlik’s request to widen his existing driveway for large equipment use. Parizek explained the county’s driveway policy. The recommended site distance is 500 feet. The driveway in consideration is 380 feet. This is Yedlik’s only access to that field. Parizek said the traffic count is not heavy in that area. Parizek added that a culvert would be needed. The board had a lengthy discussion on the liability of allowing the widened driveway and tabled action until they could get more information on the liability to the county.
At the close of the meeting, the board heard an update on county conservation projects, focusing on Wildcat Park, Hannen Park and use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for these.
In public interest comments, Preston Moore of the Humane Society visited the board. He asked if the board had any questions about the county’s dangerous animal ordinance. Supervisor Chairman Tracy Seeman said he didn’t have anything. Moore encouraged anyone who wanted to discuss his proposal to give him a call.
Moore said he had three items to discuss. He related that at least one deputy with the sheriff’s department attempted to improperly enforce the county’s ordinance within a municipality, where there is a contradictory ordinance. He explained home rule when power and authority conflict.
His second point was that the county’s ordinance is currently not being enforced at all or is being enforced inconsistently, using exchanges from the deputy’s body cam.
The third item was about how the ordinance is turning people and employees away.
Moore again urged the county to formally suspend its appearance-based ordinance. He requested the county adopt an appearance-neutral ordinance based on individual animal behaviors. He also requested that employees of the sheriff’s office receive continuing education related to the 25th Amendment of the Iowa Constitution, which is related to home rule. He also asked the sheriff’s office immediately cease attempts to enforce the county’s ordinances within municipal jurisdictions. Moore added they request the county attorney provide continuing education and guidance related to improper and subjective enforcement of the county ordinances.
The board had no questions for Moore.