O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

Several Resolutions Approved by Primghar Council


January 23, 2020

It is standard operating procedure for cities to resolve a variety of operating rules for the coming year. Among the resolutions are setting depository banks, investment limits, providers for city services such as attorney or official publication. On Wednesday January 8 the Primghar City Council approved additional resolutions.

The date and time of two public hearings were set. Both are set for 5:00pm at the next regular city council meeting, Wednesday February 12. The first Public Hearing is to rezone agricultural land near the golf course and in the Randolph II addition to residential. Ross and Cathy Miller purchased the property from PAC. It is adjacent to their existing property. The other Public Hearing set for February 12 is for a newly adopted law by the state of Iowa. This hearing is to explain to the interested public the Maximum Tax Dollars from Certain Levies the city can adopt in its final budget for the coming fiscal year. FY 2021 begins July 1, 2020. A budget must be adopted according to Iowa law in March prior to the start of a new fiscal year.

Council also approved a contract with Northwest Iowa Planning and Development Commission (NWIPDC) to update the zoning ordinance book and zoning map. This action is considered by some to be controversial and resulted in 4 out of 5 Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Committee members resigning. Mayor Kurt Edwards said those resignations were not sought. "We planned on [that committee] being really busy, helping with the update." Carol Chicoine, Primghar City Clerk has mentioned that many of the tasks done my the P&Z administrator would be brought in house and done by staff, things like measuring set backs and so-forth. Bob McCauley has filled the administrator position as a volunteer since 2009 when the current book of P&Z ordinances was adopted. McCauley had recently received a letter from city officials informing him that his administrative duties would be conducted in the future by NWIPDC.

Former P&Z committee member Marlene Klink said, "I stand by the letter." She noted the impetus for the mass resignation was a decision by the council at a November 21 special council meeting to terminate the administrator position. She goes on to say that they (P&Z committee) followed the laws. They followed the code. She doesn't feel they got a rational answer why the council would accept large costs to have an organization out of town and at a high cost do work that is currently being done by volunteers for a stipend. She also expressed frustration and disappointment with the council's decision not to open and read publicly the letter delivered to the city just before the regular council meeting. (The letter was published in the January 16, 2020 issue of O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier.)

Brad McDowell, also a former P&Z committee member said, "We think Bob did a good job as administrator. It should be someone local rather than Spencer to approve building permits. I don'ts see how one can be approved without being on site. I think that was a mistake. I don't see the purpose if the application is sent to Spencer."

Bob McCauley's comments were more direct. He said that he felt this change is the same handful of people that doesn't think they have to follow the rules. McCauley described his interactions with residents needing a building permit. He said they know there is paperwork. They call to locate [where a project can be built]. He says of the letter he received from the city, "It was formal and polite." He goes on to say the letter stated, "We have been approached by NWIPDC to do the planning and zoning updating service. All permit applications will go through NWIPDC for recommendation to the City Council for approval or denial." McCauley expressed frustration with the council for never asking questions. That critique was broader than just P&Z. He specifically pointed out that the council never asked about the new recycle containers provided and rented by Town and Country Disposal. He said the council never investigated what the cost of the containers might be. He explained that if the city purchased the containers and charged the residents the same as Town & Country they would be paid off in three years and the revenue would go into the city's coffers, not be a huge financial benefit to Town and Country.

The contract with NWIPDC approved by Council on January 8 provides $5000 to NWIPDC for updating the P&Z ordinance book. There is also a menu of activities and charges for NWIPDC to do any of the administrator work, such as coming to Primghar physically to measure the placement of construction for a building application.

The Primghar City Council took action by Resolution to amend the Urban Revitalization Residential plan for the city. Until January 8, Randolph II was exempted as qualifying area for Revitalization programs. The council approved removing that exemption. The area had previously been in a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. That district had expired and not been renewed. This action allows the entire city of Primghar, the incorporated area, as part of the Urban Revitalization area.


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