Norris continues quest against proposed carbon pipeline

Rural Red Oak resident Jan Norris was once again present at the March 28 meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors to urge them to act on the proposed carbon pipeline ordinance.
The ordinance has been pending since Feb. 28, following the first public hearing. The supervisors took no action after concerns were raised. Among the concerns voiced was from Montgomery County Board of Adjustment Chairman Rick Taylor, who questioned the policy of conditional use permits for landowners being approved at a regular public hearing of the board of adjustment. Taylor cited that the board did not meet on a regular basis and the sheer number of permits could become taxing for the all-volunteer board.
Norris was present to share some news regarding the Summit Carbon Solutions project that had taken place in the Iowa legislature.
“With nearly a three quarter majority, the Iowa House passed a bill requiring 90% voluntary participation before allowing eminent domain to be used on pipeline projects, making this a rare issue that 78% of all Iowans agree on,” Norris said. “While not perfect, something is better than nothing, and I appreciate their efforts. I ask you to join me in asking the Iowa Senate to bring it forward immediately.”
Norris added that it had been more than a month since the pipeline ordinance had been brought forth in a public hearing, and she urged the supervisors to move quickly to put the ordinance back on the agenda, as she believed routes were being laid out without proper clarification
“This weekend, I got a call from someone whose house is right over the Mills County line. He guessed the pipeline would be a couple of hundred feet from his home. His neighbors had not told him, and he found out elsewhere. They are just one more example of why we need this ordinance before it’s too late,” commented Norris.
Norris was invited to speak at a pipeline town hall meeting in Oakland. Norris said the statement that brought the biggest audience reaction was the reading of a disclaimer in a DIS study the biofuels industry paid for.
“The disclaimer stated while they used every attempt to obtain the most accurate data, they made no representation to the accuracy or completeness. While the project does include some estimates, it cannot be ascertained with any certainty the extent to which these estimates are entirely accurate,” stated Norris.
Norris also shared that the board of adjustment was holding a meeting with the author of the pipeline ordinance, Ahlers & Cooney attorney Tim Whipple, to have the concerns expressed on Feb. 28 answered.
Board of adjustment Chairman Rick Taylor said following the meeting, which was held in a closed session, he and the other members of the board felt more confident moving forward.
“The meeting went fine, and a lot of questions were asked of Whipple. We still have a few concerns about the mechanism of it, but this is new territory for all of us, and the board has never been faced with a project of this magnitude,” Taylor explained. “The project has almost 30 miles crossing our county and affecting many landowners. But I think what we decided was that we have to proceed, and in some form or manner, there must be an ordinance, there’s no disagreement with that. It’s simply down to the way the ordinance is going to be interpreted and the responsibilities faced by the board of adjustment for the county.”
Depending on action over the next few months, Taylor said there was still the possibility that their concerns may become moot.
“It all depends on the outcome of the Shelby County lawsuit against Summit Carbon Solutions. Depending on how that turns out, the board may not have to face any decisions, but on the other hand, the board was able to get questions answered and we are prepared for what we need to do if the ordinance is indeed adopted by Montgomery County, and aware of what our duties and responsibilities are,” advised Taylor.
Taylor said that included handling applications from landowners and Summit Carbon Solutions, which was the proper procedure if the project were to go ahead.
Now that the meeting with Whipple has taken place, Taylor doesn’t see any further discussions between the board of adjustment and the Montgomery County Zoning Board.
“It’s pretty well done at this point in time. I had some desire for it to go back to the zoning board, but the board and Whipple both felt that, at present, the ordinance should be adopted as proposed, and changes could be made to it down the road if needed. We’re going to have to test the waters and see how effective it is in the real world,” Taylor commented. “The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors will have to make a decision to approve the ordinance as written, or send it back to the planning and zoning board. If there are applications.”
Taylor said he’d been on the board of adjustment for 42 years, and admitted that he’d never seen a project of this scope and nature that affected so many landowners in Montgomery County.
“It’s a large undertaking for a small, volunteer board like mine, and a big responsibility, but we’ve received some assurances that we will get some assistance in the form of county officials, engineers, and inspectors that if the ordinance is adopted, to determine if the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline complies with the ordinance as written,” Taylor stated. 

The Red Oak Express

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P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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