Waukon City Council continues to address concerns with Aveka facility

by Bob Beach

During public comment time at the regular meeting of the Waukon City Council Monday, June 16, former Councilman John Ellingson, who now serves as Chairman of the Allamakee County Public Safety Center Committee, encouraged the Council to send a representative to the Committee's meetings. Ellingson said that the County may be building a new jail and public safety center in the near future, and because it may end up being built in Waukon, the Committee would appreciate input from the City going forward. Councilman Steve Wiedner agreed to attend future meeting of the Committee.
Under regular business, Mayor Loren Beneke told the Council and citizens present that he had met with representatives from the Aveka plant on the north side of town regarding recent complaints about the smell caused by the plant's operations. He said that the plant had been shut down for a few days and that a different product is now being processed that should not produce a smell.
Beneke added that Aveka is looking into pricing for equipment to reduce or eliminate odors and particulate emissions from the plant. He said that Aveka may at some point return to processing the yeast product that was the source of the smell that drew so many complaints from area residents. "It's going to take us a while to get this figured out," Beneke said. "We're going to keep working on it."
Allamakee County Economic Development Executive Director Laura Olson said that Aveka is very concerned about recent complaints and will continue working with the City on solutions.
As for recent complaints about particulate emissions from the plant, Beneke said that he had been assured by Aveka representatives that no emissions from the plant should react chemically, but he requested that anyone who is concerned about the mysterious residue collect a sample for testing.
The Council held a public hearing regarding the rezoning of property owned by the Charles Bulman estate from R-3 (single and two-family residential) to R-4 (transition district) to allow for the construction of condominiums. Hearing no comments from the public, the Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to make the change in zoning.
City Attorney Jim Garrett told the Council that the Allamakee Community School District has asked when the City would like to have the junior high practice field transferred to the City. The Council agreed on July 1 for the property transfer.
Garrett also told the Council that the school district has expressed some interest in utilizing some of the property that the City now owns from the former Town and Country Trailer Court on the west side of town. After some discussion, the Council agreed to work towards selling the northeast section of the property to the school district for use for the school's home construction program.
The Council also discussed a request from the school district to reduce its bill for sanitary sewer due to a recently discovered water leak. Since none of the water from the leak entered the sanitary sewer system, the Council agreed to reduce the school district's bill by about $3,000, the difference between the school's average sewer billing and the billing for the period during the leak.
The Council approved a similar request from Cindy Johnson, whose water bill was more than five times the usual amount due to a leak. In accordance with City policy, the Council agreed to a 25% reduction in the bill, amounting to approximately $100.
The Council also approved the first reading, waived the second and third readings and passed an ordinance to add a stop sign at Park Place Court entering Second Street Southwest.
The Council also approved contracts with the unions representing police and public works employees that include wage increases of two percent. The Council also approved a two percent wage increase for non-union City employees.
The Council opened the single bid received for the purchase of the former C-Mart property from Daryl Hansmeier for $12,800. The Council voted unanimously to reject the bid.

Under other matters, Ray Burroughs addressed the Council regarding drainage problems on the newly-paved Third Street NE. He told the Council that because the grade of the street was raised above the sidewalks, several property owners are getting water in their garages and basements after an inch and a half of rain. Lyle TeKippe of TeKippe Engineering said that the project is not yet finished and that drainage issues would be taken into consideration. He said that the contractor has been informed of the problems, adding that any damages caused would be the contractor's responsibility.
In other business, the Council agreed to the use of City sidewalks for a sidewalk sale during Corn Days August 16, passed a resolution approving the voluntary annexation of Innovative Ag, and set July 21 as the date for a public hearing on an amendment to the Southeast Urban Renewal Plan. The Council also approved a renewal of the City's $15,000 contract with Allamakee Economic Development, along with numerous internal fund transfers.