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HF 219 bill addressed during CCRC meeting

Contributed photo
This is an image of a water-summary update, including a snapshot of water-resource trends for March 8 through April 3.
Contributed photo This is an image of a water-summary update, including a snapshot of water-resource trends for March 8 through April 3.

The bill House File (HF) 219 wasn't acted on by the state's Senate Judiciary Committee, therefore, not making it through the Legislature's funnel date of April 5.

The bill directly relates to the Squaw Creek Watershed lake project for Clarke County Reservoir Commission (CCRC).

HF 219 is a bill for an act relating to eminent domain authority and procedures, including effective date, retroactive applicability and other applicability provisions.

In Dave Beck's project coordinator update given during CCRC's April 11 meeting, he stated the bill "included several provisions that would have made the project more expensive and taken more time."

The ongoing Squaw Creek Watershed project could provide a water supply for Osceola and SIRWA with an 816-acre lake, which could provide 2.2 million gallons of water per day.

As of April 11, West Lake, the current water source, is 30 inches below the spillway.

The total project cost for the reservoir in the CCRC Squaw Creek Watershed is estimated at $37.6 million. Funding the project includes many sources, especially local-option sales and services tax (LOSST).

More HF 219

On March 11, HF 219 was passed by the Iowa House of Representatives by a 93-6 vote. However, it didn't make it out of the Senate'e Judiciary Committee.

Currently, Amendment H1264, which consisted of the entire HF 219 bill, was attached to Senate File (SF) 272 bill and passed April 9 on a voice vote by the House.

"They amended this bill Senate File 272 over on the House side (and) 272 has to do with snowmobile and ATV registrations," Beck said.

As of April 11, the amended bill is now back in the Senate for their consideration.

Acquiring land

With the lake project, the CCRC started its land-acquisitions process March 5 by filing their intent to acquire land in Clarke County District Court.

Potentially-affected landowners were served notices so they may participate in the declaratory-judgment process if they choose to do so.

CCRC sent letters to those landowners in late January informing them this would be occurring.

There were 54 entities, including couples, corporations, single owners and trusts that were named.

As of April 11, 18 of those entities have responded. At least seven different attorneys and law firms are involved. Beck said several landowners have contacted him with questions, and he met with those who requested meetings.

Notices to "unknown persons" will be or have been published in the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune April 4, 11 and 18, requesting responses to the clerk of court by May 8.

CCRC received a list of "interrogatories" from attorneys for Nelson Joel Fry and Heather D. Fry April 5.

Beck said an interrogatory is a "question or demand for information."

"We'll probably receive more of those kinds of requests for information," he said.

Frequent question

Beck said one frequent question he receives from landowners is, "Why are the entire 40 acres (of my impacted land) identified when I thought the project only needed 12 acres?"

According to Ivan Webber, the CCRC's attorney, Iowa law considers the entire 40 acres affected by the acquisition of 12 acres.

In other CCRC news, the commission approved the motion to continue having its regular meetings scheduled every month.

The special election asking if LOSST should be repealed in Osceola, Woodburn and Murray is scheduled May 7. The target date for early ballots to be available from the Clarke County Auditor is April 15.

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