CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A lawsuit that attempts to halt Cargill from building a 200-car, 12-track industrial railyard in a residential neighborhood has new backing.
Members of the Prairie Park neighborhood, in southeast Cedar Rapids, have filed to intervene in the lawsuit by State Sen. Rob Hogg and his wife Kate Hogg, which seeks to invalidate the city’s decision to allow Cargill to build the railyard in the Prairie Park Corridor.
Six members of the Protect the Prairie Park Corridor non-profit corporation filed the lawsuit, spokesman Kerry Sanders noted, adding that the group has many more members.
The neighborhood’s lawsuit is attached in support of two earlier filings by Rob and Kate Hogg, who live nearby. They filed a petition for writ of certiorari Dec. 16 in Linn County District Court.
The petition, which names the Cedar Rapids City Council as defendants, asks that the court stay any further approval or development of the property until final resolution of the petition and that the court set aside the council’s approval of the future land use map amendment.
In December, Cedar Rapids City Council members voted 8-1 to rezone the 28-acre floodplain site, designated as a Prairie Pollinator zone, from suburban residential large lot to general industrial to accommodate the ag giant’s plans.
By the same vote, the council also approved a development agreement with Cargill for the city-owned land, south of Otis Avenue, west of Cole Street SE, despite pleas from dozens of neighbors who opposed the plan.
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Residents were joined by nature advocates in pleading their case in front of the City Council, citing the large-scale changes that will be brought to the quiet neighborhood once the railyard is built and allowed to operate 12 hours every day, 365 days per year.
Even as the city tries to clean up the Cedar Lake area in northeast Cedar Rapids, located next to an established railyard, the new railyard will be built alongside the popular Prairie Park Fishery — used by thousands of anglers, runners, walkers, cyclists and bird watchers — and Sac & Fox Trail.
Dan Pulis, Cargill’s Cedar Rapids corn milling plant manager, has said the railyard would take seven to nine months to construct.
Sanders has said Cargill refused to meet with any neighbors opposed to the project to discuss better options.
“The intervention request is a modest, but exceedingly important, chapter in a larger story about how law-abiding residents, homeowners and business owners, having made important investments in their homes and neighborhoods, and, in reliance upon the City’s and Cargill’s past actions and statements, are standing up and pushing back against the City’s actions to accommodate this politically-influential corporate entity’s change-of-heart on a major railyard-siting-decision,” the legal brief states. “Intervenors believe that the combined attempts to skirt political and public discourse to rezone and repurpose community land, for the benefit of said corporate entity, to the detriment of said law-abiding residents and homeowners, is not only bad public policy but, more importantly, unlawful.”