March 29, 2023

Appeal filed on judge’s ruling in reservoir commission court case

An appeal was filed May 6 in Clarke County Courthouse on the judge’s ruling in the Clarke County Reservoir Commission (CCRC) court case.

Court documents state “Notice is hereby given that defendants, Edwin D. and Deloris A. Robins Revocable Trust (Sheila A. Harned, Lanny Robins, Douglas E. Robins, co-trustees), Maurice E. and Cindy L. Sanford, Stanley F. and Rita L. Robinson and Kyle Robins, appeal to the Supreme Court of Iowa from final judgment in the form of a ruling entered on April 8, 2014, and from each and every ruling inhering therein.”

Initial ruling

The appeal is to an April 8 ruling where Judge Sherman W. Phipps of the Fifth Judicial District of Iowa ruled in favor of CCRC’s ongoing Squaw Creek Watershed project, confirming it is for a public use, public purpose or public improvement as defined in the Iowa Code.

Therefore, CCRC may use the power of declaratory judgment and eminent domain in the reservoir project.

Declaratory judgment is a court review for acquiring land for a public project. It authorizes CCRC to purchase land from voluntary sellers and exercise eminent domain for involuntary sellers within the area of the watershed project.

Eminent domain is the government’s power to take private property for public use by a state.

The project

CCRC’s ongoing reservoir project could provide a water supply for Osceola and Southern Iowa Rural Water Association (SIRWA) with an 816-acre lake, which could provide 2.2 million gallons of water per day.

West Lake, the current water source, doesn’t meet the needs of Clarke County and SIRWA.

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

Any landowner (or defendant) in the court proceedings had 30 days to appeal the court’s decision. That 30 days started April 8, and the May 6 appeal notice was within the 30 days.

What’s next?

Court documents state “the appeal will come on for hearing before the Supreme Court of Iowa in Des Moines, Iowa, as provided by law and the rules of the Supreme Court.”

David Beck, the reservoir project’s coordinator, said the work of the CCRC will not be put on hold because of the appeal process.

“We can just keep moving forward during an appeal,” Beck said.

CCRC is still able to begin the process meeting with landowners, as well as acquiring appraisals and fair market values on the land.

“Our attention is to keep moving forward,” Beck said.