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City Council petitioned to have referendum on annexation

GLENWOOD CITY — The city council received a petition that asked that they approve allowing a vote of the people of Glenwood City to allow some 400 acres to be annexed into the city. Those acres are the site of the proposed sand mine, just south of the city limits.

 But before the council heard from Julian Bender, former High School Principal about the petition, they were subjected to more than twenty minutes of verbal assaults by a group of people over the annexation and sand mine issue.

Apparently someone had circulated a sheet with the wrong information that encouraged people to attend the council meeting and the sheet indicated that the council would be meeting at the Community Center.

However, the agenda posted by the city clerk/treasurer during last week stated that the council meeting would be held at the Municipal Building. The posted agenda did not list any discussion or action by the council on the sand mine or annexation. Mayor John Larson was asked to delay the opening of the meeting to allow those people that had gathered at the Community Center to move to the Municipal Building a block away. A request that the Mayor honored.

As those people started to file into the Council Meeting voices were raised to complain that there was insufficient seating for the more than thirty people that came from the Community Center.

After calling the meeting to order and the council going through the normal items of approving the minutes and paying the bills, Mayor Larson opened up the public comments portion of the meeting, and said those who had signed up to be heard now had  their opportunity to speak. The first was Jim Laskin, who talked about the petition, in which he said, “Is signed by over half of the residents of Glenwood City.” He continued, “This is a major decision.” He told the council that the people should have the right to vote on an issue that they are deeply interested in.

Mary Alice Calhoun, stated to the council, “we need a clear answer, yes or no, to the mine and annexation. We need a referendum now.”

Steve Ashley a Town of Springfield resident told the council that they are “disfranchising against us that are outside of Glenwood City.”

The mayor was asked how much money was spent by the city on the mine issue and the work on the sand mine ordinance and questioned the mayor if the city council had any discussion about the annexation. Someone even questioned that the council might have had meetings about it without proper notice.

Mayor Larson answered the questions and said that the city clerk could have any cost figures “totaled up for us.” He continued by saying, “We have had no discussion about the referendum, we are trying to get through with the ordinance.” He also said that there had been no under the table talks.

There are two issues here, the Mayor stated. “The mine is a separate issue.” He also spoke on why there is a need for the ordinance. The mayor also answered a question about if an annexation petition has been presented to the city and he said it has not been.

Several people addressed the council about the mine being close to the school and other concerns, most of which the council has heard at previous meetings.

Barb Standaert and Chris Schone summed up the matter by saying that the people of the community want to be involved in this matter. Standaert thanked the members for being on the city council. “We elected you to do things for the city. It’s a huge deal and we need to involve the whole community.” She concluded by saying that she did not have anything against sand mining.

Schone also stated that he appreciated those who serve on the council and those who are on the ordinance committee. “The ordinance is absolutely necessary,” he said. He concluded, “We are trying to have an input into this and not get mad at each other.”

The meeting was in this discussion for more than a half an hour when the mayor moved the presentation by Bender from near the end of the meeting to the forefront to allow Bender to present the petition.

Bender stated that he had prepared a speech, but, people that spoke before him covered that and he thanked them.

Bender stated, “we want to get involved and we can through the ballot box.” Bender handed the petitions over to the city clerk and indicated that 335 Glenwood City voters had signed the petition. He said that some on the people that signed the petition were in favor of the sand mine, but wanted to get involved.

Bender stated: “What we are asking is for a commitment from the council to include an action item about the annexation.” He addressed each council member about his or her support of the matter. Crystal Booth indicated that she was in favor of that proposal. Terry Klinger said that the issue needs to be discussed with the council as a group. Nancy Hover said that she understands the concerns; “annexation has not been discussed, I don’t want to be pigeonholed on something that we have not discussed.”

Klinger talked about the new ordinance and the need for it and Booth requested it be put on the agenda for the September meeting.

The mayor concluded with the remark that until the new ordinance is in place the city has not had any discussion with Vista Sand.

Council will discuss new ordinance at special meeting

Near the end of the meeting at which time the council sets up coming meetings they agreed to have a Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, August 26 at 6:30 at the Community Center to discuss the new ordinance which apparently has been put into its finally stages.

Copies of the new ordinance will be available at the city hall on Thursday of this week.

Other Council Matters

After the council moved on from the debate over the sand mine and annexation, they heard a report from Kevin Oium of Cedar Corporation about the street work that is going to be done on Third and Elm Streets. They also received documentation about land owned by Marvin Booth near the water tower. Apparently the land in question had been put into a zoning item that forbids Booth from developing the land.

The council agreed that Booth would need to get approval from the county to allow a driveway into the property off County Highway X and then apply to the city for a change in zoning.

The council also discussed the pavers on Oak Street that were installed in the 2002 rebuilding of the city’s main drag. Apparently those pavers are not staying in place and need to be relaid. Doug Doornink had a price on doing the job, but the question arose about replacing those brick pavers with stamped concrete and a price will be sought for doing that.

The council approved spending some $3,500 for repairs to the city’s John Deere tractor.

The council also approved operator’s license for: Kevin A. Bonte, Terri J. Ross and Christine A. Roth and approved a request to close streets for Rustic Lore and a donation of $2,000. They also agreed to spend $500 toward the purchase of barricades for closing the city streets which was half the total cost the other half coming from the Rustic Lore Committee and the car club.