Stop fast-tracking a concrete plant without public input and environmental impact study
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UPDATE, 8/23/17 from Beth Everett at Meadowlark Hearth Farms:
On August 21 the Scottsbluff city council voted unanimously to sell the city property to Croell Inc directly across from Meadowlark Hearth for putting a concrete redi mix and asphalt operation on the city property directly across for our 120 year old family farm. We understand that city council members are promoting this for jobs in the Scottsbluff area. We also have jobs and we have 3 businesses on our farm: year round organic vegetables, fresh cow milk and a national seed operation as well as an educational component where people from all over the United States as well as people from Scottsbluff come to learn about vegetable growing and seed growing. We have now 26 days to gather signatures for remonstrance against placing the Croell ready mix/asphalt in this place. If our remonstrance is successful, we also need to raise capital to buy the land next door and show the city how we can really put Scottsbluff on the map through our educational programs and our good tasting vegetable varieties. We think the that Croell would be much happier with their location nearer to the town so they can get their cement trucks quickly their job sites. The current Croell site is 3 miles from town. We have a feeling that after a while Croell will thank us for stopping them from being so far out in the country!
If you are a resident of the town of Scottsbluff and a registered voter in the town of Scottsbluff, please call me 308-631-5877 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get the remonstrance petition to you for your signature.
Sept 3 and 4: Labor Day weekend: Consider coming to our 5th annual Seed Fest to learn about growing, harvesting and threshing seed : on the Sunday before labor day and Monday labor day. You can come for the whole time and camp or if you are local just stop in to have a shorter experience. Workshops sponsored in part by Specialty Crops Grant to Meadowlark Hearth Living Environment Foundation from the NE Dept. of Agriculture
*UPDATE* 8/18/17 from Beth Everett/Meadlowlark Farms: PLEASE ATTEND SCOTTSBLUFF CITY COUNCIL MEETING MONDAY, August 21st, 2017, 6pm. at 2525 Circle Drive, Scottsbluff, Ne 69361
This meeting will most likely be the FINAL VOTE on this proposal Iowa Croell concrete/asphalt plant to locate its buildings and industry, including sand and gravel mining, as well as a batch asphalt plant, on land owned by the City of Scottsbluff south of the tree branch capped city land fill on County Road 26 just north of Hwy 26 and East of the Scottsbluff Sugar Factory 3 miles.
The proposal also includes selling all the city land in that location: parcel 010030131, to Croell, which is borders County Road 27 too 365 acres/approx 1500/ac.
This is the last chance to express concerns about this ordinance which will be read for the last time (required to be read 3 times.)
Here is a link to Beacon maps to see property: https://beacon.schneidercorp.com/Application.aspx?AppID=852&LayerID=15923&PageTypeID=1&PageID=7084
IF NOT ABLE TO ATTEND PLEASE CONSIDER contacting Scottsbluff City Hall
(8/6/17): Please try to attend the Scottsbluff City Council meeting Monday, August 7th, 6pm, to share your concerns. See additional information below from the new organization Scottsbluff Citizens for Transparent Processes https://www.scottsbluffcitizensfortransparentprocesses.org/
Thanks for your continued support!
City Council Meeting on Monday, August 7 @ 6PM
Calling all supporters to a Scottsbluff City Council Meeting on Monday, August 7. The meeting starts at 6PM and we're hoping to pack the small space with as many supporters as possible, perhaps pouring out onto the lawn. Numbers will speak volumes to the City Council Members who are taking up the controversial issue of selling a large portion of a section in agricultural land to a company intent on industrializing it. We welcome testimony from the public sharing your reasons why this is a bad deal. Here's some things to consider if you plan to attend the upcoming meeting.
Come early if you can or late if you have to. We're hoping to have a lot of testimony, so even if you can't be there right on time, your presence will still be valuable.
Consider bringing a collapsible chair, in case the council chamber reaches capacity.
Even if you don't feel comfortable speaking, Meadowlark Hearth Farm has printed signs for supporters to hold, indicating their support of the farm that would shoulder the brunt of the side effects this sale would create.
This might be a long meeting. Be patient with the process. Being involved in civic matters can be tedious, yet if we aren't involved in the process we aren't helping to direct the course of our community.
Scottsbluff City Hall is located at 2525 Circle Drive, Scottsbluff, NE.
Topics of Concern
If you're wondering what you could speak about at the meeting, here are some issues of concern for many of us. Perhaps one of these resonates with you:
• Croell, Inc. had originally intended to purchase 80-some acres in the industrial zoned portion of Gering for slightly less than $1,000,000. When that sale fell through, the City of Scottsbluff offered this 360+ acre parcel to them for a little over $500,000. This is not a good deal for the citizens of Scottsbluff, who own this piece of property by proxy of the city.
• This property sits right in the middle of an agricultural area, which has been used this way for quite some time. It is true that the city has put a landfill there (and capped it) and also has the yard waste site on this section as well. However, these operations do not have an effect on the adjacent businesses the way an industrial operation would. In fact, the vegetable production at Meadowlark Hearth Farm would need to undergo radical changes or stop completely if the concrete and asphalt plants they have planned go in. Meadowlark Hearth Farm is currently the only certified organic vegetable producer in the entire Scottsbluff area.
• The property the city is moving to sell is part of an inadvertent habitat for many animals, including the Bald Eagle. It is true that the pond on this property was created by past dredging to build US Highway 26 and the pond in front of Meadowlark Hearth was created as part of the US Highway 26 project as well. Regardless of the original intent, the land has become home to many animals year-round, including the Great Horned Owl. During the winter months, Bald Eagle young and old congregate in the tall cottonwoods and fish both ponds. With constant industrial activity and a dredge on the pond, the Eagles may not come back.
• Job creation is an important part of economic development. Croell, Inc. has stated that the plants and offices would create 15 jobs for the area. However, the creation of these 15 jobs would also result in the loss of at least 5 jobs at Meadowlark Hearth Farm. Additionally, if the various agricultural businesses at Meadowlark Hearth were fostered by the city in a manner similar to how the city is proposing to foster Croell, the farm could employ as many as 20 people. And that's just one of the adjacent farms.
Can't Make the Meeting?
If you cannot make the meeting, here are some ways you can still be heard:
Post a comment to the City Council:
Email the Mayor and City Council Members:
Randy Meininger, Mayor - email@example.com
Raymond Gonzales - firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Shaver - email@example.com
Jordan Colwell - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark McCarthy - email@example.com
Share information about our cause with anyone you may know. Engage others to engage in the civic process. Share this website/petition and encourage them to sign up for the mailing list in the "Take Action" section of our new website: https://www.scottsbluffcitizensfortransparentprocesses.org/
The primary goal of this petition was to avoid a "fast-tracked" decision with little or no public input, which was clearly the intent of the City Manager and several other Council members, who among other things voted to waive the ordinarily-required three readings of proposed ordinances so this important matter could be implemented immediately. Councilman Scott Shaver objected, explaining that there was "too much [public] input to waive it..." He and Councilman Colwell voted against waiving the regular reading requirement. YOUR input via this petition--which had gathered over 100 supporters/signatures in the short 6 hours it was posted before the 6pm July 17 meeting--obviously made a difference.
Please continue to circulate this petition and check back for updates, including additional opportunities to support Meadowlark Hearth as developments continue. Meadowlark Hearth is continuing to review its options with regard to the ordinance/proposed sale, and your continued involvement and support can have the very positive impact of "reminding" the City of Scottsbluff and Croell, Inc. of the many people closely watching how this develops, most importantly protecting the environmental, economic and educational interests this land and Meadowlark Hearth contributes to.
It is worth noting that despite Scottsbluff Mayor Randy Meininger's statement that the Council "can balance the interests of the organic farm with those of the Redi-Mix company," and the City Manager's website Message recognizing the "need to be transparent in all that we do and the recognized importance of citizen opinion in everything we do...," no one from the City of Scottsbluff made any attempt to contact the Corymbs/Meadlowlark Hearth before the July 17th meeting to discuss the implications of any land sale, let alone get their "citizen opinion" about "balancing their interests." They were not even informed of the meeting. Had the Corymbs and other supporters not learned of this proposed sale "through the grapevine" and eventually local media, the obvious result would have been a "fast-tracked" sale decision waiving the ordinary process of ordinance-reading and providing for "citizen opinion." The way this has been handled so far by the City of Scottsbluff only reinforces the need to stay informed/involved so that the interests of Meadowlark Hearth and the surrounding habitat/environment can indeed be "balanced" with those of Croell, Inc. as this process moves forward.
Thanks for your continued interest and support!
Monday, July 17th, 2017, the Scottsbluff City Council is scheduled to consider selling over 365 acres of land approximately three miles east of Scottsbluff to Croell, Inc., a company that has previously expressed interest in buying property in Gering, Nebraska for a "Redi-Mix [concrete] plant and regional offices" (KNEB news story).
There is significant concern that this matter may be "fast tracked" for discussion and perhaps even approval in closed session without further study or public comment/input (July 14 2017 KNEP story here stating that the Council "could enter closed session to discuss strategy in selling just over 365 acres of land to the Iowa-based corporation...")
Locating a heavy industrial site like a concrete plant at the proposed location would likely have significant environmental and economic consequences, particularly to abutting landowners Meadowlark Hearth Farms, a fourth generation family homestead and active part of the local/regional economy which produces organic seeds, community-supported agriculture, USDA-certified beef and pork, milk, and educational classes through their 501(c)(3) Living Environmental Foundation.
The property in question is an established wildlife habitat area, including some of the few tall grassland properties in this area where species like Short-eared Owls can be found. Other regular species include deer, eagles, herons, various migratory waterfowl, Northern Harriers and even signs of river otter.
This property could be far better utilized by the City as wildlife habitat for recreation (hiking, wildlife observation, hunting) than as a heavy industrial site.
At the very least, such a serious matter should only be considered, much less approved, following thorough research/study of possible environmental impacts/severe negative economic impacts on Meadowlark Hearth Farms, without meaningful opportunities for public input and comment.
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