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Following a public hearing Monday, August 17 pertaining to the sale of the city-owned parking lot to Hy-Vee, the Mount Ayr city council has yet to finalize a sale agreement.
Standing in the way of an agreement was advice from Seth Delutri, the attorney representing the city in the sale negotiations, that a second public hearing would be required now that the city had obtained copies of all three documents related to the transaction: 1) the sale proposal, 2) the right of first refusal pertaining to the alleyway entrance to the lot, and 3) the list of restricted businesses that could be housed in the old Hy-Vee building.
That Declaration of Use Restrictions (see summary at right) caught the eye of the Ringgold County Development Corporation (RCDC).
RCDC director Jodie Geist read a statement from the corporation stating its objections to the restrictions:
1) The restrictions are too severe and would hinder economic development opportunities for the property.
2) The fact that the restrictions will run “in perpetuity” also hinders economic development opportunities. The corporation would rather see a sunset of the restrictions in three-to-five years.
3) The corporation has specific concerns about items H, I, and J as they would also limit economic growth.
Phil Hoey had traveled from his office in Northfield, MN to represent Hy-Vee at Monday’s public hearing.
He replied that the list of restrictions presented to the city is the standard form the company uses in all property transactions, whether they’re buying or selling.
With the intended move into the former Shopko location, Hoey said, Hy-Vee is making a sizable investment in the community, and the company benefits from a vibrant economic environment.
Still, he added, the company needs to protect itself from a new business in the old store location that could directly compete with Hy-Vee goods and services.
Councilman Brad Elliott also questioned the perpetuity of the restrictions, stating that was the area in which he had the most concern. He concurred the restrictions should come with some form of sunset date after which the restrictions would be eliminated.
Hoey said businesses seeking to locate in the old Hy-Vee building could seek a waiver from the restrictions at any time.
“Our goal is not to keep property,” he said.
He added the list of business types listed in Section J of the restriction declaration probably does not pertain to the Mount Ayr situation. Those restrictions, he explained, are put in place whenever Hy-Vee moves into a new development where nearby businesses are not yet established.
“I’ve never had a city get involved or put limitations on our development, “ Hoey said.
At the conclusion of the discussion, on a 4-1 vote, the council passed a resolution stating the city’s intent to follow through with the parking lot sale to Hy-Vee and to set a second public hearing for Monday, August 24 at 7 p.m. Councilman Elliott voted against the resolution.
In other business the council:
• approved a contract with Suez Utility Service Company to re-insulate the riser pipe in the city’s blue water tower.
• approved a pay application for $225,241.68 from Feldhacker Construction for work completed on the Cleveland Street paving project.
• approved a building permit for Greater Regional Community Health Clinic to erect a metal fence along its north property line.
• approved the purchase of skid loader tracks from Stewart Tire of Mount Ayr for $2,620 a pair. Councilman Jordan Stewart abstained from the vote.
• on a 2-3 vote, rejected a motion to offer paycheck direct deposit to city employees. Councilmen Ken Robertson and Mack Greene voted in favor of the proposal.