OTTUMWA — The Chariton Valley Planning and Development Council believes the Area XV Regional Planning Commission is invading its territory.

On July 1, 2007, four counties — Appanoose, Lucas, Monroe and Wayne — broke ranks with Area XV RPC in Ottumwa to form its own county of government — the Chariton Valley Planning and Development group.

Both organizations provide a range of economic development services for communities including housing or water and sewer projects.

Since then, there have been letters and membership applications sent to cities within the four counties asking to participate in Area XV RPC.

Chariton Valley Planning and Development Council President Dean Kaster, a former Area XV board member representing Appanoose County, said he believes communities within their four-county area should look to its local agency to help with projects instead of going to the RPC.

“At one time Area XV was a 10-county organization and now they are down to six counties and I think they should work within their six counties,” Kaster told the Courier this week. “I think the concern is that we each have a footprint that we should be responsible for. Right now we have a four-county area and it appears that Area XV is actively seeking membership from that footprint.”

The issue was addressed at the Area XV RPC monthly meeting Tuesday, with a letter from Chariton Valley asking the RPC to stop sending out membership letters to cities within their jurisdiction.

“Cities within those counties are still part of our district. The Area XV area has not been dissolved. There are some counties that are not members but the communities participate,” said Jefferson County Supervisor and RPC board member Mike Pech.

Arex XV RPC Executive Director Ellen Foudree said the organization offers help to those who seek it.

“The RPC has always seen that volunteer members get all the help they need,” she said during Tuesday’s meeting. “We have sent out letters inviting cities within those counties for membership, but it is on a volunteer basis. Three of the four counties withdrew from RPC, but some cities [within those areas] still get help from us.”

Pech agreed and said cities within those four counties have option as to who to turn to.

“It’s just offering them two different groups to receive their services from. We send out letters [to the cities] asking if they want to renew their participation, but we don’t really solicit them,” Pech said.

According to Foudree, this is the only area in the state that has two economic development groups, a county of government and an economic development district group, that overlap each other.

“They say they offer all the same programs, but I am willing to dispute that,” Foudree said at the meeting.

However, Kaster disagreed with Foudree and said his organization offers the same programs as Area XV, without the cost.

“We have access to [Community Development Block Grants] and everything else they do,” Kaster said. “We are working on some of that right now.”

Kaster also said that Area XV charges membership dues for their services, whereas Chariton Valley does not.

“Why would a city go to another county of government and pay [a couple hundred dollars] to get the same services for no additional cost,” Kaster stated.

Though communities have the choice of which economic development group they would like to work with, Chariton Valley officials have made it clear that they do not want to see the Area XV RPC working within their territory.

“I don’t want to make any comment that would make this sound like a dispute; I don’t think this needs to be discussed any further,” Foudree told the Courier on Wednesday.

But, Kaster said it is a concern for Chariton Valley.

“We sent them a letter and they need to respond, and we can work from there,” Kaster said. “I think we need some sort of communication.”

Pech said a letter is being drafted and will be sent out in the next couple weeks to the Chariton Valley stating the RPC’s position on the issue.

Scott Niles can be reached at (641) 683-5360 or via e-mail at


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