Upon reviewing Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors’ “Resolution for Public Hearing on Proposed Sale of Real Property located in Winneshiek County” as it pertains to plans to sell critical watershed land in Freeport, I am astonished it states: “The real estate is no longer needed for county purposes.”
The real estate is needed for a county purpose. To protect and preserve the rights, privileges and property of the county and residents of Freeport.
Iowa code 331.301 sets the scope of a county’s power and limitations: “A county may, except as expressly limited by the constitution, 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.”
That’s the responsibility our supervisors accepted when they took the oath of office.
Have they overlooked the consequences for the residents of Freeport? They who have suffered from the flood catastrophe of 2016. The property proposed for sale uphill from Freeport is seeded with deep rooted native plants. These native plants “can absorb up to 9 inches of rainfall per hour before runoff occurs and will intercept as much as 53 tons of water during a one-inch hour rain event.” (www.cleanlakesalliance.org)
The flood that devastated Freeport in 2016 was due to rainfall amounts over 8 inches in less than 24 hours. (Upper Iowa River Management Authority report, page 17.) A HUD grant project begun in 2016 spent $4,855,266 mitigating flood potential in 4 watersheds in Winneshiek County.
I ask that the Supervisors call a moratorium on this sale. Their process seems hasty and more flooding in Freeport may be an unintended consequence.