Supervisors hear about alternative options following denial of conditional use permit for communications tower near New Albin

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, August 27 to address a full agenda of items including an unexpected election expense update, a vehicle replacement for the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Department and the contract and bond for Brennan Construction to complete the A26 Bridge replacement project.

During Public Comment, Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) discussed that the August/September edition of Our Iowa magazine has a pull-out section with the Effigy Mounds view of Yellow River. Reinke indicated that the film “The Burial,” written and directed by Jack Meggers, is currently being filmed in the Lansing area and that the Eastern Allamakee Community School District’s Drama Department was able to meet with the filmmakers to discuss and ask questions about the filming process and project in general. Reinke discussed that some filming will be taking place at Lansing Housing Products for scenes requiring the interior of a manufacturing facility and that several Lansing businesses have been helpful in supplying lodging for cast and crew and Lansing restaurants have helped with on-set food catering. Reinke further discussed that initial footage is being shot for a short version of the film, which will be instrumental in gaining investors for a feature length version of the film.

Maynard Johnson discussed a section of pavement near Lansing where mud has been deposited by cement trucks or other heavy machinery. Johnson and the Supervisors discussed recent weather conditions with Allamakee County missing the severe portions of storms recently.

Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake discussed that the conditional use permit for the communications tower near New Albin was denied at a recent meeting and that a permit for a site near Harpers Ferry is being pursued next. Blake indicated that two sites are being pursued for the project which include New Albin and Harpers Ferry with potentially four or five small towers being needed to compensate for the loss of the larger New Albin tower. Blake indicated that options available include appealing the denial of the original permit or establishing a different site for the large communications tower.

The Supervisors moved into the discussion and consideration of the Certificate of Adjustment for abatement of drainage taxes. Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer indicated that the Department of Fish and Wildlife has purchased a property and that the abatement of $72.71 in taxes has been requested. The Supervisors reviewed the request, with Supervisors Larry Schellhammer and Dan Byrnes voting to approve the Certificate of Adjustment for abatement and Supervisor Dennis Koenig voting against the measure. The matter was approved.

The Supervisors discussed the appointment of a Veterans Affairs (VA) Commissioner for Allamakee County. Beyer indicated that two applications have been received. Byrnes recommended tabling the matter until next week to allow a recommendation to be received from the Allamakee County VA Office. The agenda item was tabled until the September 4 meeting.

Blake discussed the Oswald W. and Carol Lee Goettler Subdivision Plat request involving the surveying off of a parcel of land to be sold to a neighboring property owner to be used as farmland. Blake indicated that the Plat Review Board and Planning and Zoning Commission have both recommended approval. Following review of the request, the Supervisors approved the measure.

Setting the time and date for the Fiscal-Year 2019 Budget Amendment was discussed with September 24 at 10 a.m. being approved.

Beyer provided an update on an unexpected election expense. Beyer had previously discussed this matter at the August 20 Board of Supervisors meeting, indicating that laptop computers used for elections are required to have new encryption software, with 10 new laptops being needed to replace older models that are not compatible with the new encryption software. Beyer provided an update that she was incorrectly informed and that 12 laptops would need to be replaced, with 10 laptops to receive software updates.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick discussed a personnel matter involving the resignation of dispatcher Ronda Hansen. Mellick indicated that Hansen has accepted a dispatcher position with the Decorah Police Department and that the job vacancy will need to be advertised. Mellick discussed compensation for new dispatcher hires and staffing levels necessary to avoid overtime. The resignation by Hansen was accepted by the Supervisors.

Mellick discussed a vehicle replacement and provided a recommendation for the quote received from R.W. Pladsen of Waukon for a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab at $23,776.50 with trade-in. The Supervisors accepted the bid from R.W. Pladsen.

Ridenour discussed the contract and bond for Brennan Construction for the A26 bridge replacement project. Ridenour indicated that the contract, bond and certificate of insurance were all in order for the project at the $726,592.46 bid from Brennan Construction. The Supervisors approved the contract and bond for Brennan Construction.

Ridenour also discussed the next agenda item involving the resolution to temporarily close Makee Drive from Highway 9 east to the intersection of Four Corners starting September 4 for a grading project. Ridenour indicated that Skyline Construction would be completing the grading project with the resolution being approved by the Supervisors.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour discussed progress on the Green Valley Bridge project and that 80% of the full depth patching on pavements has been completed. Mellick discussed that there are some things to be worked on under warranty at the Public Safety Center, staffing plans and provided a recommendation to use salt rather than a salt and sand mixture on the Public Safety Center’s driveway and parking areas this winter. Ridenour and Mellick briefly discussed setting a start date to begin construction of the Alliant communications tower at the Allamakee County Farm location.

Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed the need to replace the automated external defibrillator (AED) in the County Sheriff’s vehicle due to the age of the AED being near the end of its lifespan. Snitker also discussed the end of the Federal Fiscal-Year.

Beyer provided an update on the nomination deadline for the general election and also advised of the upcoming Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) special election.

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