A site plan has been approved by the Iola City Council, clearing the way for construction to begin on a G&W Foods grocery store in Iola.
City Council members voted, 7-0, (Austin Sigg was absent) to adopt the site plan for the 17,000-square-foot facility at the old Allen County Hospital site.
Developers presented the plan to the Iola Planning Commission Wednesday, Iola City Administrator Sid Fleming told the Council. The Planning Commission endorsed the plan, with three contingencies:
— Utility easements be adjusted to accommodate installation of city-provided utilities;
— Documentation is provided by an engineer on stormwater runoff to ensure the proposed construction does not negatively impact the surrounding area; and
— Documentation in the form of an easement or contract for a shared parking area on the west side of nearby Medical Arts Building.
The city expects none of the three issues to halt construction.
Councilman Jon Wells noted the grocery is being built on land that already had held a hospital and large parking lot, with no issues from stormwater runoff then.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the grocery store is planned at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The community is invited.
COUNCILMAN Bob Shaughnessy thinks more can be done to prevent flooding along North State Street during torrential rainstorms.
The street was impassable for more than an hour Oct. 6 when more than 4 inches of rain fell over a two-hour stretch.
Shaughnessy said he looked closer at State Street’s drainage system, which he cited as the primary culprit.
Three 36-inch drains along North State lead the water to the city’s storage facility to the west, where a pair of 36-inch drains lead the water farther west, a single, 48-inch drain.
From there, the water goes to a drainage ditch near the old city dump west of town.
Shaughnessy sees two problems: The drains get smaller as the water goes west, and the ditch is filled with brush and timber, causing water to back up and fill State Street.
“I’m no water engineer, but if you try to force all this water into those pipes, it slows the water down,” Shaughnessy said. “We should be opening water up. It shouldn’t be that expensive to fix.”
Other Council members agreed clearing out the drainage ditch is an inexpensive remedy, but Wells cautioned about adding drainage pipes without an engineer’s study done first.
“We can’t just change water runoff patterns,” Wells said.
Mayor Joel Wicoff said an engineer’s study would be inexpensive, particularly compared to water damage to homes and businesses along State Street.
COUNCIL members approved a request from Tracy Keagle of Humanity House to waive the rental fee to use the New Community Building at Riverside Park for a Nov. 17 soup and pie fundraiser.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will to go help struggling families with their utility bills this winter.
The Council also voted, 7-0, to extend Iola’s Neighborhood Revitalization Plan, which provides property tax refunds to property owners who increase their property values by more than $5,000 through remodeling or new construction projects.
Through the plan, all of the added taxes will be refunded for the first five years, then the abatement is reduced by 20 percent each year over years six through 10, until the property owner is back to paying all of the taxes after the 10th year.
The existing plan was scheduled to expire Nov. 30; the extension will run for three years.
Next up is to seek the appropriate inter-local cooperation with other local taxing entities: namely, Allen County, Allen Community College and USD 257.
The city has abated $17,449.85 in property taxes so far in 2016.