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Jasper County Tribune

Landowners' county road dispute continues without resolution

Supervisors approve RFP for county comprehensive plan

A compromise is still out of reach for two rural Jasper County landowners in a dispute over the fate of a 300-foot stretch of a public road that is a main access point to both properties.

Michele Brott, an attorney for Carl Lust, told the Jasper County Board of Supervisors a recent, “small” heart attack kept her client from attending Tuesday’s hearing over whether or not to turn the short stretch of East 40th Street South, which runs to his and through the property of Mike and Jodi Lanphier near Reasnor, into a C-Level road.

After the Lanphiers’ request to vacate the road died due to the lack of a motion Jan. 23, the board set a series of public hearings over the next three weeks to consider the Level-C proposal.

According to county ordinance, a Level-C road is limited public access and must be indicated by signage and a locked gate. Everyone who is approved access to the road would be granted a key.

Brott did read a letter Lust had prepared. He wrote, due to the stress the road dispute has caused, Lust was dropping a compromise proposal to take the 300-foot stretch of road to a Level-C and relenting to the Lanphiers’ initial proposal of the county vacating the road.

“At this point, the compromise is worse than closing the road, and he would be in favor of re-agendizing the vacation of the road,” Brott said. “The road can close, and the Lanphiers won’t have to worry about traffic, and he won’t have to worry about two gates to access his land.”

After examining the Level-C compromise, Lust feels having two gates — one at the access point to his land and the first at the head of the road near the Lanphiers’ property — would be more difficult than a vacated road for equipment operators who need access to Lust’s property.

Lust may have conceded, but the Lanphiers have also had a change of attitude since the parties last met before the board Jan. 22, and now prefer the Level-C road to vacating.

“They think by having some of those barriers in place, it might be less invitation for the public to go down there,” said Erin Clanton, the Lanphiers’ attorney. “So it would be their position that we’d like the board of supervisors to move forward on a Level-C.”

Lust’s biggest concern, Brott said, is having to go through two locked gates to access his farm/conservation ground.

“For him or folks on his behalf to come down with machinery, open a gate, hop back in, go another 246 feet, hop back out — it’s cumbersome,” Brott said.

Jasper County Engineer Russ Strutt said that a resolution to take the road from Level-B to Level- C with just a single gate at the entrance would be possible.

Supervisor Brandon Talsma and Board Vice Chair Doug Cupples reminded the Lanphiers the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Jasper County National Resources Conservation Service and Pheasants Forever all have been granted or likely will be granted easements to Lust’s conservation land and will have the right to access any gate leading to the property.

Brott told the supervisors, as the hearing closed, she would bring that option to her client and report back to the board at the next public hearing set for Feb. 5.

In other action Tuesday, the board:

• Approved a resolution to send out a request for proposals to 10 engineering and community planning firms for the bid to draft an updated comprehensive plan for Jasper County.

The county’s existing plan is 22 years old, has not been kept current and is considered an unusable document in 2019, according to the RFP presented Tuesday to the board by Jasper County Community Development Director Nick Fratzke.

The RFP was drafted by Fratzke with assistance from Jasper County Hometown Pride Community Coach Jeff Davidson. It was approved by the board in a 3-0 vote.

“It is intended that the comprehensive plan will allow the county to focus its limited resources on what is most important to the citizenry of Jasper County,” the RFP states.

The supervisors have given any responding firms until Feb. 22 to submit proposals.

The supervisors want the plan to tackle specific goals such as helping people find ways to get started in agri-business, develop rural small businesses and take advantage of Interstate 80 for business development.

When completed, the comprehensive plan’s shelf life is expected be 10 to 20 years and will be reviewed and updated as deemed necessary by the board of supervisors. Fratzke and county leaders expect the plan will provide data on the county’s population, workforce, land use, transportation, housing, environment, recreation and public services, as well as develop a public input process.

Contact Mike Mendenhall at 641-792-3121 Ext. 6530 or mmendenhall@newtondailynews.com

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