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Council grants Reed Avenue property severance request


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T-R PHOTOS BY ROBERT MAHARRY — Monte Eaton speaks before the Marshalltown city council about the request to sever his property at 2460 and 2460 A Reed Ave. from the city limits during Monday night’s meeting. The council voted 5-2 to affirm his request, ending a saga that began all the way back in 2016 and included three prior rejections by the council.

The fourth time was a charm for soon-to-be rural Marshalltown resident Monte Eaton as his resubmitted request to sever his property at 2460 Reed Ave. and 2460 A Reed Ave. from the city limits finally received council approval during Monday night’s regular meeting.

Eaton, along with James and Susan Greuning and Greg and Linda Jacobs, first came to the council all the way back in 2016 to ask for severance for their properties, which are all located south of the Marshalltown Community College campus just off of Highway 14, but at that time, it failed by a 3-2 vote, although the Jacobs’ request was granted at a subsequent meeting. Eaton’s petition came back to the council on Jan. 9, 2017, and failed on a deadlocked 3-3 vote before going to hearings with the Iowa City Development Board, which agreed with the city’s decision not to grant severance by a 5-2 vote.

The matter came back up for discussion last August but once again failed on a 3-3 vote as one of the council seats at the time was vacant due to Dex Walker’s resignation. Because the makeup of the council has changed since the general election cycle with two new members now holding seats, the decision is eligible to be reconsidered.

City Public Works Director Heather Thomas brought back much of the same information that was included in the previous request and said there had been no new comments submitted between then and now. Eaton has continually cited a lack of city services and the fact that the property was illegally annexed into the city back in 1969 as the reasons his petition should be granted.

Councilor Jeff Schneider spoke up first and expressed his strong opposition to obliging the request.

Max Moldmann, who resides at 102 College View Ln., spoke to the Marshalltown city council alongside his daughter about his request to sever their property from the city limits during Monday night’s meeting. The council voted 6-1 to bring back a formal resolution to either grant or deny the request.

“I don’t think there’s any legal justification to do this. In fact, we’re setting a terrible precedent, and I think we’ll regret this for years to come with other severance requests coming our way. So I’d urge you all to vote no,” he said.

Fellow Councilor Gary Thompson responded that while he agreed there was no legal precedent, he cited the annexation history “as a favor to a landowner” as his reasoning for why it should be severed from the city and returned to the county. Councilor Mark Mitchell cited the Founding Fathers and called the matter a clear case of taxation without representation in indicating that he would vote to approve the request.

Eaton, who also shared a 10-page email with the council laying out the reasons for his request, then stepped to the podium and offered to answer any questions the councilors had for him. With none asked, his brother Mark spoke next and said he felt the property had been annexed illegally.

“They basically stepped in the way of action the county was taking to (assess a) penalty for the landowner building an illegal building without a permit, and he ran to the city and asked for the city to annex him in to save him from the county making him tear his building down,” Mark Eaton said. “Since then, there have been several other actions. The city itself has illegally split the property three times.”

After providing some more history on the situation and the three aforementioned subsequent splits, Mark Eaton concluded that there were “a lot of problems” around the property that needed to be cleared up and described the situation as “a battle between certain people in the city who want tax money.”

A motion to approve the request passed by a 5-2 vote with Schneider and Barry Kell opposed.

In speaking with the T-R after the meeting, Monte Eaton said he was happy to move on and bring the situation to a satisfactory resolution.

Later in the meeting, Max Moldmann, who owns the property at 102 College View Ln. near Eaton’s, presented a severance request of his own for council discussion. Now that Eaton’s request has been granted, Moldmann’s property, which has an assessed value of $556,320, is surrounded entirely by properties outside of city limits except for the MCC campus to the north.

In showing his support for the request, Thompson commented on the fact that he didn’t know of any other property where someone would have to drive through county property (none of the other College View properties are within city limits) to get to city property.

Moldmann’s young daughter, who stood at the podium with him, said she wanted to be able to raise chickens but couldn’t due to being within city limits, and she added that they pay taxes but don’t receive city amenities. He wondered how city leaders would fill if the roles were reversed, and he received city amenities without paying taxes.

Both Mark and Monte Eaton also stepped forward to share their support for Moldmann’s request, with Mark Eaton referencing the fact that he owns a county property on College View Lane, which is a private drive maintained by the property owners. Monte Eaton also noted other properties on the edge of city limits in other parts of town that receive services like city water and fire and police protection despite being in the county.

“I’m not sure what purpose it is to keep Max in other than arrogance and egos,” Monte Eaton said.

Schneider responded to Moldmann’s comment that he didn’t know his property was within the city limits when he bought it as “not the city’s problem” and disputed the assertion that he wasn’t receiving any city amenities. Kell asked Thomas if water and sewer were considered services or utilities, and she said they were utilities charged separately. He also inquired about which department would respond in the event of a fire at Moldmann’s property, and Thomas said it would be Haverhill Township with mutual aid from Marshalltown due to a 28E agreement.

Monte Eaton then attempted to comment again, but Mayor Joel Greer rejected his request after saying they had “heard enough” and instructed Eaton to return to his seat.

A motion from Thompson to bring Moldmann’s request back in the form of an official resolution passed 6-1 with Schneider opposed.

In other business, the council:

Approved the consent agenda as listed.

Approved a five-day alcohol license for Midnight Ballroom at the Central Iowa Fairgrounds Arena for a rodeo with outdoor service on March 30 by a 6-1 vote, with Al Hoop opposed.

Approved setting a public hearing for the conveyance and transfer of title of city-owned lots by a 6-0-1 vote with Gary Thompson abstaining.

Approved the first reading of an amendment to the code of ordinances to raise the stormwater rate from $4 to $4.20 per ERU.

Approved an amendment to city code Chapter 91 on fire prevention and protections, sections 91.002 and 91.004 by a unanimous vote and subsequently voted to waive second and third readings by the same tally.


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or rmaharry@timesrepublican.com.

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