No action on carbon pipeline engineering firm, trails request approved
The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors is waiting to take action on hiring an engineering firm in regards to the proposed Summit Carbon Pipeline.
The supervisors met with one firm, L.T. Leon Associates, in March, but took no action on the proposal. Supervisor Donna Robinson said she had yet to make headway on a proposal from Snyder & Associates, a more local engineering firm.
“I have reached out to Snyder & Associates but I do not have enough information yet at this point that I feel comfortable saying yes or no with them. I plan to have continued conversations with them,” Robinson said.
As for L.T. Leon, Supervisor Charla Schmid said she had been attempting to make further contact but had yet to do so.
“I have reached out to L.T. Leon and we’ve basically been playing phone tag. They did call me back, but I haven’t been able to get much further, and am trying to find someone who was on that earlier Zoom meeting to have further discussions with,” Schmid said.
As for selecting a firm, Robinson felt that she didn’t see any major decisions being made in the immediate future, a sentiment Supervisors Chair Mark Peterson shared. However, Robinson said there was still some action that could be taken.
“It’s important for us to have the letter of intent with someone so we are covered when that time comes, and moving forward, we would be covered for any work the company is doing prior to that official pipeline decision,” commented Robinson.
Jan Norris once again spoke before the supervisors and applauded the decision to pursue Snyder & Associates as an independent inspector as a local firm. While she knew the supervisors had their own questions, Norris said she had been reaching out to others going through the same situation.
“One reply I received was from a gentleman who served on a subcommittee to research and interview inspection companies. Questions were asked such as how many counties the firm has contracted with, and how many could they handle; their experience in making sure agricultural drainage systems were installed properly, and that the land was restored, and their interest in advising the county on ordinances that would protect the county, landowners, and their resources. The gentleman sent a full list of questions that I could forward to the supervisors,” Norris advised.
Norris added Montgomery County was in good company, as numerous other Iowa counties were pushing back against the pipeline.
“So far, 34 counties and nine communities have filed objections to the use of eminent domain for these carbon pipeline projects; however, landowners are still receiving multiple contacts by Summit, even after saying no, and motions have been filed with the Iowa Utilities Board asking for them to offer some protection for landowners against harassment,” Norris said.
The IUB has yet to schedule a hearing date on Summit’s permit application, nor has Summit filed all of its required paperwork.
“Summit is showing signs of being unable to secure easements as anticipated. Landowners are making it clear they are not eager to sign over their land. I remain happy to serve as a resource to the supervisors, or anyone, who wants more information,” stated Norris.
The supervisors agreed to bring the topic back to the agenda in a couple of weeks.
Additionally, members of the board pledged its support for plans to construct recreational trails in and around Stanton.
Stanton community development director Jenna Ramsey met with the supervisors at the regular meeting June 28, seeking approval from the supervisors for a resolution supporting the state recreational trails program. Ramsey once again outlined the community’s trail proposal.
“For a few years now, we’ve had a goal of completing the trail around our community, and extending it to Viking Lake State Park. Two phases are in the city limits, and the third phase is in county territory out to Viking Lake,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey said, last year around this time she was in the same place asking for a resolution of support, and now it was needed again.
“We got that resolution to apply for the state recreational trails grant, and we did not get it, so we are working to apply again, and this resolution of support is for trail maintenance,” advised Ramsey.
Ramsey made it clear that it was not the expectation that the county handle all of the trail’s maintenance.
“We would be working with the county engineer and other entities to come up with a plan. The grant includes the engineering and construction, and is for a funding amount of just over $1.3 million. The grant does require a match, and that match is through the City of Stanton. The City of Stanton does have that money available,” commented Ramsey.
One change in the grant request is that they applied for all three phases last year. This year, they are only applying for two phases.
“Phase two, in the city limits, is currently out for bid, so our grant request is for phase one in the city limits, and phase three, which takes it from Stanton out to Viking Lake,” stated Ramsey.
The supervisors approved the resolution supporting the state recreational trails program.
The supervisors also approved a business associate agreement with Nishna Productions, following entering into a contract with the organization for cleaning services.
“This is basically an agreement that we follow HIPAA guidelines in regards to our employees that we have with Nishna Productions,” Robinson said.
As per the agreement, any individually identifiable health information received by the business associate from covered entity or created or maintained by the business associate on behalf of the covered entity must conform with requirement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) in respect to security, privacy and confidentiality of individually identifiable health information/protected health information.
In other business, the supervisors:
• Approved the appointment of Jan Norris as county representative to the Red Oak Library Board of Trustees.
• Approved a tobacco permit renewal for Cubby’s.