Members of the City of Atlantic’s Planning and Zoning Commission gathered Tuesday evening at City Hall, and expressed their displeasure with the way Poet Bio-refining, LLC began construction of a ethanol transfer station near the downtown area. When finished, the station will allow semi tanker trucks full of ethanol to transfer their loads derived from a processing facility in Coon Rapids, into railroad cars.
Zoning Administrator John Lund said the City wasn’t notified about the company’s intentions until well after work had begun on the project. Word about the project came on or about August 22nd, and it was from a citizen, not from officials with Poet.
When City officials met with representatives from Poet last week, they were left with more questions than answers, and the answers themselves conflicted with what the Iowa DNR was told would be in-place at the site, located just north of the Atlantic Depot/Chamber of Commerce, on north Chestnut Street. Lund said City Attorney says the P&Z has no authority to do anything about the situation.
Lund said Dave Wierstein told Lund he can’t force Poet to obtain a building permit. Lund said it should have been a P&Z issue “from the get go.” He says if Poet had come to the City first, as a professional courtesy, the City might have been more supportive of the plan, but that didn’t happen.
Among the Commissioners expressing their dismay with the way Poet went about the project, was Roger Herring, who said Poet displayed a “Blatant disregard for the City of Atlantic,” in building a facility in “The very heart and center” of the information and downtown district. Herring said he’s not against Poet and what there business is, but the manner of how they went about constituted a blatant disregard for the City and its citizens, and it shouldn’t work that way.
John Lund says there will be a follow-up report during next week’s City Council meeting. Mayor Dave Jones, who along with Councilman Steve Livengood and Shawn Shouse, were in attendance at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, Tuesday, said the City isn’t done exploring its options on how to best deal with the situation. The Commission Tuesday passed a Resolution for the record, expressing their frustration at the lack of communication Poet had with the City, that the matter was not brought before them in a timely manner, that an engineering study was not conducted about the location and possible risks, and that the Commission was not aware of the project before construction began.
In other business, the Commission tabled until its meeting in October, discussion pertaining to multiple families occupying Single-family properties. The issue was brought to the Commission’s attention after a citizen expressed her concerns about numerous, extended family members staying in a home in Atlantic, and how that affects property values, along with other, related concerns.