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City moving ahead with Fountain Hills Estates development plans

‘Minor details’ being worked out between developer, city staff

At Monday night’s Newton City Council meeting, councilors were updated on efforts to attract development in the failed Fountain Hills Estates development in the southwest corner of the city.

Director of Finance and Development Bryan Friedman addressed the council, stating only “minor details” remained to be ironed out with the proposed developer of the property, Venture Homes. The West Des Moines-based company is owned by established developer Stephen R. Grubb.

Grubb has been building homes and housing developments in Central Iowa since 1966, and has an established track record, which was appealing to several councilors.

“Venture builds quality single-family homes, mainly in the western suburbs of Des Moines,” he said. “They are proposing to start work on two or three homes yet this year in the western part of the subdivision, and to build more as lots are sold.”

Friedman said Venture Homes has a “library of floorplans,” all of which will work on the lots in the western part of the development. On the eastern side, where the city has previously acknowledged difficulties in building exist, he said the developer will look at other ways to facilitate building, ranging from lot consolidation to special floorplans that fit specific lot configurations.

The price range for homes constructed by Venture Homes would be $200,000 to $250,000. No action was taken by the council Monday night. Friedman said he would continue to work out the remaining details with Venture Homes and report back to the council.

At the beginning of the meeting, councilors heard from a number of concerned citizens regarding the need for four-way stop signs at the intersection of East 19th Street North and North 11th Avenue East. The citizens presented petitions signed by more than 300 residents of the area, demanding the council take action on the matter.

Several residents expressed concerns about drag racing that is happening on the stretch of East 19th Street North north of North 11th Avenue East. Another thanked the Newton Police Department for recent enforcement efforts, but said more needed to be done for the safety of residents and the many school-age children who walk in the neighborhood.

Councilors also heard from a downtown business owner who expressed concerns about the lack of parking during the day. He said the parking issue was affecting the ability for elderly customers to have access to his business.

In other business, the council approved a consent agenda that included the following:

• approval of a Class C liquor license with Sunday sales for the First Avenue Speakeasy;

• approval of a Class C liquor license with Sunday sales for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No 1655;

• appointment of Susan Smith to the Newton Historic Preservation Commission to an unexpired term that will end Dec. 31;

• approval of a resolution levying assessments for costs of nuisance abatement;

• approval of a resolution approving quotes for prohibited sanitary sewer discharge
removal work;

• approval of resolutions accepting completion of the Newton Sanitary Landfill cells D-1 and D-2 expansion project and the delivery of sand for them;

• approval of a resolution accepting completion of the Water Pollution Control Facility Tank Mechanism Rehabilitation Project;

• approval of a resolution approving a real estate easement agreement for storm sewer repairs at 300 W. 14th St. S; and

• approval of a resolution to enter into an amended contract with Municipal Collections of America Inc. to collect unpaid debt to the City of Newton.

Daily News Editor Bob Eschliman may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 423, or at

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