Residents speak out against county’s proposed Freeport land sale – Two bids opened following public hearing

By Zach Jensen,

Twenty-two area residents attended the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors’ public hearing regarding the county’s proposed sale of land in Freeport Monday morning March 18. Almost all members of the audience were opposed to the sale, and several spoke out against it, citing public policy and common sense as reasons to stop it.

Freeport resident Kevin Lee started off the discussion by reading a portion of the Iowa Code as it relates to the powers and duties of a county. According to the information Lee presented, Part 1 of Section 331.301 “General Powers and Duties” states: “A county may, except as expressly limited by the Constitution of the State of Iowa, and if not inconsistent with the laws of the general assembly, exercise any power and perform any function it deems appropriate to protect and preserve the rights, privileges, and property of the county or of its residents, and to preserve and improve the peace, safety, health, welfare, comfort, and convenience of its residents. This grant of home rule powers does not include the power to enact private or civil law governing civil relationships, except as incident to an exercise of an independent county power.”

“Please,” Lee implored the supervisors. “For the protection of the neighborhood of Freeport and even downstream, do not alter the ownership of this prairie seed plot – flood mitigation area. Every bit of flood mitigation is needed here.”

Asked by a member of the audience how many people were opposed and against the sale, Supervisor Shirley Vermace said the supervisors had received up to 54 separate e-mails and 400 signatures on a petition from people against the sale, while receiving notifications from just three residents in favor of it.

“How many times do we have to go through this?” asked Kristin Erickson. “Let’s just drop it, because obviously, there are enough people against it that we could say that it was not really a good idea. I have yet to hear any benefit to the county.”

The first bid read was from Iowa Rotocast Plastics, Inc., which bid $142,000. The second bid was from Ren Properties, LLC, owned by Russell Novak of Novak Electric, in the amount of $177,450.

Due to the fact that Supervisor Mark Vick was absent from the hearing and Supervisor Steve Kelsay was participating remotely, the supervisors tabled the bid discussion until their next meeting at 9:30 a.m., March 25, in the courthouse annex. 

 

Full article in the March 21 Decorah Public Opinion Newspaper. 

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