Winneshiek County Supervisors to take bids for development of flood buffer land

By Lyle Otte, Decorah

Dear Editor:

A small parcel of land that has served as a buffer of flood protection for local residents is slated to be sold to the highest bidder on March 18, against widespread opposition from county voters. 

The 7+ acre parcel of land, located in the unincorporated community of Freeport immediately northeast of Decorah, became very controversial recently after Iowa Roto Cast Plastics (located in Freeport) approached the Board of Supervisors (BoS) last summer about purchasing at least part of the parcel to construct a large solar array. 

In January, after the ruling majority of the BoS announced their intent to sell the land to the highest bidder, many local residents protested, including those who live in Freeport and personally suffered extensive damage to their homes during the historic 2016 flood. Because the land was set aside by the previous Board of Supervisors as a natural flood buffer and was planted with native grasses after that event, locals considered the move a violation of the citizens’ trust. 

A public meeting was held by the citizens in Freeport that drew approximately 80 residents, all against selling the property. Additionally, a petition was organized online that received approximately 400 signatures, all against selling the property. The first public hearing held by the BoS on Jan. 8 drew many residents who spoke against the proposed sale.

In spite of the widespread opposition, the BoS majority voted again in February to hold another public hearing to accept bids, which will happen March 18 at 10 a.m. The Winneshiek County Citizens for Good Government are encouraging everyone to attend and speak out against the sale.

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