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Bonita Avenue agreement returns to Ottumwa’s City Council

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 8:57 PM CST
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - “Right back at it” were the words used by City Staff about the Bonita Avenue project.

Heugerich Construction, the developer wanting to build three 36-unit workforce housing apartment buildings, presented a new agreement to Ottumwa City staff.

This new agreement would last 20 years, just like the first one, but now with only a 50% property tax rebate.

Zach Simonson, Community Development Director for the City, notes the 50% cut would provide revenue for taxing entities within the first year. “Overall that’s more over the 20 year period - that’s more revenue for the City, and that’s more value for us.” It would also provide funds to the County, and Ottumwa School District.

The Council voted to hold a public hearing on the new agreement at the next meeting: December 7th at 5:30 pm.

City Administrator believes Ottumwa likely won’t grow much without incentives coming from the local government. “In order for us to grow, we are going to need to do some project, we are going to need to encourage some level of development to get us past that hurdle.” He says the City is entering into a housing crisis.

NEW COUNCIL MEMBERS

Sandra G. Pope was sworn in Tuesday night, the first African-American city council member in Ottumwa’s history.

And the Council is looking to fill Bob Meyers’ seat, who will resign on December 31st.

The council had to decide between appointing someone, or holding another special election. Two candidates from the City / School Election came forward to say they’d be willing to serve.

Russ Hull, who came in fourth, said he didn’t want to see taxpayer money wasted on another election. “I think it’s pointless to waste money on a special election when we just had an election, and there’s absolutely two viable candidates who are willing to fill this seat.”

Ashley Noureil, who came in fifth, asked the council not to think about who would be next in line, but that “the best question to ask is who’s that fifth member that, knowing our current council, puts that council in the best position to move Ottumwa forward?”

The City Council voted to begin the appointment process. They will likely come to a decision on who to appoint in December.

PIT BULL ORDINANCE

730 Ottumwans have signed a petition wanting to end the nearly 20-year ban on Pit Bulls in Ottumwa.

The petition says it hasn’t worked to keep Pit Bulls out of city limits, and calls the ban “discriminatory”. Some City Council members seemed interested in changing it, like Holly Berg. “We need to be booking at anti-tethering ordinances, backyard breeder ordinances - things that are going to reduce the things from happening in the first place no matter what the breed is.” However she noted she likely won’t still be in office by the time decisions are made, as her term ends at the beginning of January.

Though there was no vote tonight. City staff is looking at how to go about changing the ordinance. The Mayor says staff present a recommendation to the council in the “near future”.

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