UPDATE : March 8, 2022 — Despite an objection from a resident who pointed out the agenda item was inaccurately worded — giving the impression that Cargill paid $32,800 for the land rather than $83,200 — the City Council voted to approve the reimbursement to the Iowa DNR as part of the consent agenda.
The Cedar Rapids City Council will consider returning $32,800 to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in connection to 28 acres of pollinator habitat sold to ag giant Cargill.
Council members will vote on the item as part of its consent agenda on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
Items on the consent agenda are considered routine and are not discussed unless a council member asks that a matter be considered separately.
Cargill began constructing an industrial railyard on the Prairie Pollinator Zone in a residential neighborhood after council members in 2019 approved rezoning the site at Stewart Road and Otis Avenue SE, and approved a development agreement that will allow the multinational company to operate the railyard 12 hours every day, 365 days per year.
The city notes that on Dec. 9, 2016, the City of Cedar Rapids Parks & Recreation Department was awarded grant funding from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to prepare and install 82 acres of pollinator habitat.
“All 82 acres were successfully planted and the project was closed out. On December 17, 2019, the City Council approved the purchase of 28 acres of the pollinator habitat in the amount of $32,800 to Cargill for their rail yard project,” the council’s packet states. “Pursuant to the terms of Grant #17-R4-DZ relating to developments paid for with resource enhancement funds, the City is required to reimburse the IDNR for the developed land sold to Cargill. The Parks & Recreation Department is requesting funds in the amount of $32,800 be released back to the IDNR for reimbursement.”
Numerous neighbors and users of the Prairie Park Fishery, which abuts the 28-acre property, objected to the rail yard.
In November, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled that plaintiffs Rob and Kate Hogg, who filed a court petition, and neighboring homeowners were unfairly denied a hearing and ordered that they should have a district court hearing. The hearing has been set for April 28.