Supervisors approve letter to Iowa Legislature in opposition to House File 487 regarding bypassing local control over siting communications towers

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, February 25. There was no Public Comment during that scheduled portion of the meeting.

The first agenda item involved the consideration of signing a letter to the Iowa Legislature regarding HSB 155, now known as House File 487. Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker indicated that the Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) and Emergency Management are opposed to the legislation affecting 47 Iowa counties with populations below 15,000.

Bernard Pratte, representing the Allamakee County Board of Adjustment, and Marlene Duffy, representing the Allamakee County Planning and Zoning Commission, were in attendance. Duffy indicated that she was present for fact-finding regarding this matter with Pratte providing feedback on the proposed legislation. Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake indicated that House File 487 is designed to bypass local control for the next two years in siting communications towers.

Blake discussed a previous siting denial within Allamakee County with that application having been denied due to the siting being obnoxious and offensive to an adjoining landowner. Blake indicated that there is a process that could have been pursued involving an appeal in district court by AT&T and its contractor, Northeast Iowa Telephone Company (NEIT). Blake further explained that in this case, AT&T could have moved the proposed site to an alternate location that would not have impacted the adjoining property owner, which would have likely been approved, with AT&T and NEIT choosing not to go through this process.

Blake read aloud a draft of a letter expressing the Board of Supervisors’ opposition to House File 487 which would allow the placement of communication towers in locations that negatively impact surrounding land uses and natural resources without local governing officials having any input into the decision. The Supervisors approved to sign the letter, which will be sent to the legislature.

The Supervisors moved into the review of three plat requests with Blake providing an overview of the David D. Vorwald plat request. Blake indicated that Vorwald is requesting that two parcels, a building site and wooded area, be surveyed off, with the Planning and Zoning Commission recommending that the request be tabled until additional information be provided. The Supervisors tabled the matter. The plat request by Kathleen Regan involving the surveying off of a three-acre parcel was reviewed by the Supervisors and approved. The plat request by Jeffrey F. and Mary A. Kelly involving a wooded parcel being purchased by an adjoining landowner was approved.

Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer provided an overview of the next agenda item involving the consideration of salary changes for personnel within the department structure of the County Attorney. Beyer indicated that this matter had been previously discussed at the February 18 Supervisors meeting without the salary increase for the Victim Witness Coordinator being approved. The salary increase to $40,000 for the Victim Witness Coordinator with a retroactive start date of January 28 was approved.

The Quarterly Report for Environmental Health was accepted and placed on file. The Manure Management Plan update for Suttle Creek was also accepted and placed on file.

Jane Regan of Upper Iowa Insurance Services provided an insurance review and update. Regan presented packets of information to the Supervisors and Beyer and provided an overview of Allamakee County’s insurance premium. Regan went into detail about various coverage areas including property, general liability, inland marine, business auto, cyber liability, Sheriff’s drone liability and physical damage, law enforcement liability, workers compensation and umbrella coverage. The Supervisors approved to sign the insurance forms as presented.

Under Department Head Updates, Snitker discussed recent weather conditions, the current weather forecast and the tabletop exercise in New Albin scheduled for February 26.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed the Six-County meeting scheduled for March 7 and the Health Insurance Committee meeting scheduled for February 28. Ridenour and the Supervisors discussed options related to the English Bench Watershed #9.

As a reminder, Beyer advised that the County Budget Hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 4.

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