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items tagged with Scott County Board of Supervisors

Choosing Finance Over Farms: Scott County Chases Industry at the Expense of Agriculture
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: News/Features

Category: Feature Stories

2016-04-14 11:02:35

Orascom's Lee County facility

On April 7, three of the five Scott County Supervisors – Carol Earnhardt, Jim Hancock, and Tom Sunderbruch – approved a stunningly short-sighted change to the Scott County Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) that allows for spot zoning anywhere in the county’s unincorporated areas. Supervisors Diane Holst and Brinson Kinzer respected the community-at-large’s wishes and voted against the change in the spirit of true representation.

The county’s current Agricultural Preservation Zoning District prevents spot zoning – developments that don’t conform to the surrounding land use – on any agriculture property outside city limits. But the three supervisors provided the necessary votes to begin the approval process for a new zoning designation called an Industrial Floating Zone (IFZ) to skirt that protection. April 7’s vote was the first of three readings over the next four weeks that will change the CLUP to allow the county and Quad Cities First – the economic-development arm of the Quad Cities Chamber – to market prime farmland for a “megasite” (1,000 acres or more) to potential industrial operators.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority established 17 regional marketing groups – including Quad Cities First – to help attract industrial development to Iowa, and it’s offering marketing grants of up to $50,000 per project. The fund expires in November, so the pressure is on to get the IFZ passed before that deadline. (See

The Greater Davenport Redevelopment Corporation – a partnership of Scott County, the City of Davenport, the Quad Cities Chamber, and MidAmerican Energy – owns and operates the Eastern Iowa Industrial Park, but it’s running out of sites to market, and none is large enough to qualify as a megasite. Ergo the Industrial Floating Zone, which by circumventing current protections for prime farmland will open up the entire unincorporated county to potential industrial development.

And this is precisely what makes the Industrial Floating Zone so egregious. Most counties and municipalities allocate specific acres of property for site certification as a megasite. Certification criteria demand that qualifying properties have infrastructure already in place. With the IFZ, this is not the case. It’s all up for negotiation, and no surrounding properties are protected from the intrusion, leaving an entire rural community economically insecure going forward. And county residents can bank on their tax dollars paying for necessary infrastructure as part of the incentives used to entice an industrial operation here.

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Industrial Spot Zoning Would Carry a Hefty Price Tag for Scott County
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Editorials

2016-03-16 14:36:50

Every now and then, an issue arises locally that poses a real threat to our natural resources and subsequent standard of living. This time it is in the form of an amendment to Scott County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) that currently protects our most precious asset – the richest soil in the world.

Residents will have an opportunity to be heard on this matter during a public hearing scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, in the Scott County board room on the first floor of the Scott County Administration Building at 600 West Fourth Street in Davenport.

The amendment, called an “Industrial Floating Zone” and recommended by the county Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Commission, would permit spot zoning for large-scale industrial operations anywhere in the unincorporated areas of Scott County (outside city limits). At a July 2013 meeting, the Planning & Zoning Commission was told by Planning & Development Director Tim Huey that the Board of Supervisors was interested in reviewing and updating the CLUP to better reflect the county’s strategic-plan goals – with a focus on language for commercial and industrial zoning to further economic-development objectives. This was in response to losing the $1.4-billion Orascom fertilizer plant to Lee County because of the Agricultural Preservation Zoning District that protects ag land and prevented this industrial intrusion into dedicated farmland.

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Demand That Scott County Provide Transparency by Recording Meetings
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Editorials

2016-02-17 14:47:47

Scott County Board of Supervisors Chair Jim Hancock needs a stern reminder of whom he serves as a supervisor: the public. Clearly he has forgotten, evidenced by his tirade during the February 9 Board of Supervisors Committee of the Whole/budget meeting after Supervisor Diane Holst again proposed recording the county’s meetings. Hancock vehemently objected to recording meetings, this time citing cost as his objection. This is a red herring considering that no cost for recording meetings has been proffered to date.

In fact, the county already has the capacity to record meetings to cassette tapes, and it does so during all its closed sessions. So what stops the supervisors from hitting the record button during any of their other proceedings, considering current technology eliminates any barriers to converting this system to simple MP3 files that can be posted to the county Web site? Hubris and an unacceptable disregard for transparency. It begs the question: What do they have to hide? It should be noted that Holst records most meetings and posts portions of many of them to her Web site for public consumption as part of her ongoing commitment to more-transparent government.

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Take the People’s Side in the People’s Business
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Letters to the Editor

2016-02-17 14:45:03

My sincere thanks to Scott County Supervisors Diane Holst and Brinson Kinzer for supporting recording Scott County Board meetings, making them accessible to everyone with a television or Internet access. They are taking the people’s side in conducting the people’s business.

When I attended the January 2, 2015, board meeting – at which new members were sworn in – I witnessed a breach of the rules for electing the apparently pre-selected chair. (The name plaque for Tom Sunderbruch as chair had already been printed.)

It went: “The nominations for chairman is open. Any nominations?” Hancock: “I nominate Tom Sunderbruch.” Earnhardt: “I second.” “All in favor. The vote is unanimous.” There was no opportunity for other nominations, no opportunity for discussion, and no close of nominations prior to the vote.

But I can’t prove that because it wasn’t reflected in the minutes, which read: “Moved by Hancock, seconded by Earnhardt a motion that Tom Sunderbruch serve as Chair of the Board of Supervisors. All Ayes.”

A recording would have revealed that breech.

Supervisor Jim Hancock said that if people are truly interested in an issue, they show up. Supervisor Hancock, perhaps working people can’t show up because of the times of the meetings – 8 a.m. for Committee of the Whole (when the real work is done) and 5 p.m. for board meetings.

With trust in government at an all-time low, I believe supervisors Tom Sunderbruch and Hancock may want to re-evaluate their positions on open government.

Since neither plans to run after their current terms are up, hopefully their replacements will take the people’s side.

I will be the first to donate $500 to a “Watch How Our Supervisors Spend Our Money” fund to provide live and archived video and audio. And, so far, I have $1,550 in additional pledges.

Mike Angelos

Holst and Narcisse Offer Unprecedented Opportunities to Voters
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Editorials

2014-10-28 22:17:17

This midterm election provides voters in Iowa with two unprecedented opportunities to empower critical accountability at both the local and statewide levels.

First, five years ago a concerned citizen, Diane Holst, began attending Scott County Board of Supervisors meetings because she wanted to better understand where her tax dollars were being spent. The more she attended, the more she realized that not all is what it seems relative to county business. Typically the lone attendee from the community, she witnessed processes that were vague and confusing. So she decided to research the agenda items and familiarize herself before making inquiries. It soon became obvious that most of the business is conducted by staff behind the scenes, away from public scrutiny or input, with very little oversight by supervisors beyond showing up during board meetings and approving what is put in front of them.

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