There will be plenty of discussion at today’s City Council meeting with a vote scheduled to be taken on adopting the Wildwood Drive/Highway 34 Urban Renewal Plan.

Resolutions on the plan will follow the public hearing. If approved, the resolutions set the stage for significant land development southeast of the Wildwood Drive and Highway 34 intersection.

The public will have a chance to be heard with a hearing scheduled to discuss the proposed urban renewal area. Under the urban renewal plan, approximately 9.89 acres would be removed from the West Gate Economic Development Area and would address the required financial incentives for the proposed development of a 55,000-square-foot Kohl’s retail store.

One of the resolutions sets a public hearing for the Tuesday, Aug. 16 council meeting. The hearing must be held before the city can issue $2,050,000 general obligation bonds to the Urban Renewal Project.

“Once the bonding is determined, we’ll set the day of the sale,” Bob Jay, City Finance Director, said. “We’re anticipating that to be September 20 and we’ll be looking to close the sale on October 19.”

The 20-year plan also allows for the city council to designate all or any portion of the property as a “tax increment area.”

The City Council will also vote on a resolution to assess expenses of $1,951.50 incurred by the city to Steven and Noelle Stanbridge. The expenses came as a result of rescuing animalsfrom the Stanbridges’ property.

Noelle Stanbridge, 41, was arrested in late March on several charges, after Ottumwa police received a video of Stanbridge beating a dog with a club at least 15 times. She pleaded guilty to animal cruelty last week.

A total of 10 dogs were found at the property. The city incurred veteranarian costs, court costs and other expenses in rescuing the dogs.

“It’s a little bit unusual. We just don’t have this situation happen very often,” Joni Keith, city attorney and human resources director, said. “It’s like any other assessment to a property, but it falls under a different code section.”

The resolution would also allow the city to assess the costs with the Stanbridges’ real estate taxes. The resolution authorizes the dispositional expenses to be submitted to the clerk of the Wapello County Board of Supervisors, who would then report the expenses to the county treasurer to assess the expenses as property taxes against the Stanbridge real estate.

“This resolution acknowledges the court’s judgment that allowed us to rescue the dogs and allows us to recoup those expenses,” Keith said. “It’s already been signed off by the Stanbridges.”

The city will also venture into the first steps of its new public hearing policy regarding transit service. The council will vote on whether to hold a public hearing during the Aug. 16 council meeting on reduction in transit services to go into effect in September.

Under the advice of a consultant, the city is looking at eliminating services including the JARC rout, PTYC North, PTYC South and Sunday transit services. In addition, transit would operate two routes instead of four on Saturdays and would eliminate the first trip on all weekday morning routes.

The resolution on Tuesday initiates the first procedural steps in obtaining public input for the consideration of reducing transit services. Two weeks ago, the city approved the new policy that requires the OTA to solicit and consider public comment before raising a fare or carrying out a major reduction of transit service.

“We need to make some decisions on the transit. This is just the first step,” Keith said.


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