Carbon pipeline ordinance to be re-evaluated

The Montgomery County Planning and Zoning Commission will be re-evaluating plans for a carbon pipeline ordinance.
At the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors meeting Sept. 13, Jan Norris said she supported the use of outside counsel to add a layer of protections.
“I hope you can hold your public hearings expeditiously to get an ordinance in place by the first of the year to protect our landowners before the Iowa Utilities Board makes any decisions. I was disappointed, but not surprised, to hear the Summit Carbon representative disparage the well-written Shelby County ordinance. They even went so far as to say they will not follow ours, if passed,” said Norris.
Grant Terry, a project manager for Summit Carbon who was referenced by Norris in her public comments, also spoke before the supervisors. Terry said the requirements of the ordinance proposed by Shelby County are overly restrictive compared to the requirements of the Iowa Utilities Board and the federal government, with the governance of hazardous liquid pipelines, which their line would adhere to.
“We’re not opposed to working with the county if they would like to put an ordinance in place to help increase the safety aspect of their citizens and the county. We’re working with Dakota County on a mutually-agreeable ordinance. To be frank, with the ordinance being reviewed, in most all cases, it would not allow for a construction project to take place,” stated Terry.
Zoning administrator Barry Byers spoke before the supervisors in regards to the ordinance, and advised the supervisors that he had some reservations on using the Shelby County ordinance as a template.
“I’m having reservations now, after some things that have come to light after that meeting. I’m of the opinion there should be at least one more meeting of the commission before discussion on the pipeline is brought before the supervisors for review and approval,” commented Byers.
County Attorney Drew Swanson told the supervisors he had reviewed the ordinance with Bruce Swanson, as well as consulting with Byers, and said at this time, based on what they have seen in the proposed ordinance, adopting it as written would be premature.
“It appears to have been drafted by a private organization which sounds as though it is well-intentioned, but may be lacking in a couple of key areas. Those areas are logistical, practicality, reasonability, as well as legal enforceability,” said Swanson.
Swanson added there were 39 other counties all being affected by the proposed pipeline project, and more input was needed.
“We need input from a number of entities, including, but not limited to, Brian Hamman with emergency management, because there is a lot of emergency management language tangled in there, and he’s a lot more skilled in that area than any of us are,” Swanson explained.
Swanson also felt the county needed to reach out to other county boards of supervisors for their input as well.
“With 39 other counties, there has obviously been some productive discussion and productive drafting of something that might actually work in the long run. I also feel we need to reach out to other county engineers, and maybe even the legislature and the Iowa Utilities Board.
According to Swanson, by communicating with those other entities first, they could ensure the county would pass an ordinance that would work the first time, and in the long run.” Swanson said, “The more input and research we can obtain, the better. It’s a very important subject that needs to be right the first time.
Supervisor Donna Robinson addressed the comment made by Terry about the ordinance being overly restrictive. Robinson felt it was the right and privilege of the county to do so.
“It’s our responsibility to be as restrictive as we can be to protect our citizens, their land, their livestock, and their neighbors.” Robinson commented.
No further action was taken by the supervisors. There is no word yet on when the next meeting of the Montgomery County Planning and Zoning Commission will take place.

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