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Archive for June 17th, 2009|Daily archive page

Let the shooting continue: Police Department says the 2008 flood has helped it comply with State Ombudsman’s questions about shooting range

In Police Department on June 17, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Neighbors next to the Police Department’s regional outdoor shooting range have been trying to get someone to do something to quell some of the range’s racket for years.

The Iowa Citizens’ Aide/Ombudsman spent the last couple years reviewing the matter before, in April, sending City Hall a letter suggesting that the shooting range, at 2727 Old River Rd., SW, violated state law.

In the letter, Bert Dalmer, assistant ombudsman, noted that the particular section of state law in question falls under a section of state law that prohibits hunting near buildings and feedlots.

Nonetheless, Dalmer said the law prohibits discharging a firearm within 200 yards of a building “inhabited” by people without the consent of the owner or tenant.

City Hall now has answered back. In short, the city says the shooting will continue.

In a letter to the state office signed by Police Chief Greg Graham, Graham says he “doesn’t necessarily agree” with the office’s analysis.

Graham hones in on the word “inhabited.”

He notes that the 2008 flood drove residents out of two of three homes within 200 yards of the firing range.

A third resident has rebuilt his house, and in this instance, Graham says the Police Department can close down a section of the range so the remainder of the range is not within the 200-yard distance of this residence’s house.

A fourth structure is a truck repair shop, not a residence, and Graham argues that the word “inhabited” only applies to residences.

Don Sedrel, a retired firefighter who has most persistently complained about long hours of racket and some stray bullets, lives farther than 200 yards from the shooting range.

In a return letter to the city, the state’s Dalmer said his office is reviewing the city’s response.

Of note, the city has proposed building a new Public Safety Training Center, perhaps at Kirkwood Community College, that would include a shooting range. In seeking funding for the center, the city has pointed to the state agency’s probe of the current shooting range as a reason to build the new center.

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City Council lets it be known: It’s not hand-outs to everyone who asks

In Chuck Wieneke, Monica Vernon, Tom Podzimek on June 17, 2009 at 8:41 am

Ask and you shall receive, it seems, can often be what happens with the City Council when a business shows up seeking a little financial consideration for doing something.

The current City Council has put something of an elaborate apparatus in place to try to help it judge whether a request for tax breaks or other incentives makes sense.

At its last council meeting, a council majority decided to use the apparatus and to follow what it was saying.

The upshot: Cedar Valley Heating & Air Conditioning won’t get a property-tax break of an estimated $75,000 over 10 years – about 44 percent of the total bill – if it builds a new 11,640 sq. ft. metal building to house its business at 60th Avenue SW and Fourth Street SW. Cedar Valley also intended to rent space in the building to four other shops.

In return for the tax break, Cedar Valley told the City Council it expected to retain four jobs and create three new ones, all with an average wage of $15 an hour.

Seven of the nine council members said they didn’t need time to think about the deal: They rejected it out of hand.

That was so even though council member Monica Vernon made mention of the issue that often can be the only one that guides such decisions. Aren’t we inviting this business to go to another community if we don’t grant the tax break? Vernon asked.

Other council members pointed to the five-point scorecard that the council established in May 2008 as part of an Economic Development Investment Policy.

The five points: Does the request facilitate significant investment that shows a strong commitment to the community? Does if help retain and create “high-quality” jobs? Does it add diversity to the region’s economy? Does it provide a long-term community benefit? Does it comply with sustainable development principles?

City staff credited Cedar Valley with only one “yes.”

The City Council majority thought that the one positive score — that the proposal created well-paid construction jobs — was a stretch. Council member Chuck Wieneke didn’t think $15-an-hour ranked as good pay for a trade job.

Council member Tom Podzimek put it most bluntly: “We’re not in the business to provide tax incentives to build a metal pole building,” Podzimek said.