Council moves ahead with land purchase

The purchase of 37 acres of land for future economic development projects was approved Monday night by the City Council of Webster City.

The property is located to the east of the existing industrial area south of the U.S. Highway 20 and Highway 17 interchange. City Manager Ed Sadler said the land has a paved road, water, sewer and electric utilities. Gas service is nearby, he said.

“When we put together our economic development efforts with the city, a lot of what we put emphasis on was having cash available for incentives – whether forgivable loans, matching funds, helping to purchase land or buildings. We thought that was our best option,” Sadler said.

But what the city and economic development officials discovered was there was no land readily available that could be closed on quickly. The city has a few parcels for development, but all are less than 10 acres of land, he said.

“Beyond having a cheaply-priced, move-in ready building, the next most important factor is having shovel ready building sites that are quickly available for a good price,” according to Sadler. He said that to date, the city has lost out on a couple of large prospects by not having a large enough parcel of land available.

“At that point, the council asked David Toyer (former economic developer) and myself to look at land purchases for the city,” he said. “We did that and looked at several parcels of land and tried to figure out which ones best met our needs at the best price.”

The cost of the property, owned by Shiva Real Estate LLC, is $27,000 an acre or a total of $999,000 for Lot 1 of the Sahai Addition of Webster City. Funds for the purchase would come from pool of money previously set aside for economic development, according to Sadler.

The council voted to approve the purchase, and in a related matter, approved a three-year option to purchase an additional 39 acres owned by Shiva Real Estate, the Anil Sahai Family Trust and Subhash Sahai – Lot 2 of the Sahai Addition. The land is directly south of the first parcel and the cost of the property, if the city chooses to activate the option, would be $21,000 per acre for the 39 acres. That property does not have utilities connected, but are located in close proximity, Sadler said.

The council approved the option agreement.

Urban renewal area

In other business, council members approved an amended Urban Renewal Area and plan for the possibility of additional development in the area of Van Diest Medical Center and the Hamilton County Courthouse. The area will be expanded to include property south of the courthouse, Sadler said, adding the Red Bull subdivision. In a related matter, the City Council approved an ordinance providing for the division of taxes levied on taxable property in the 2013 addition to the 2013 Red Bull Division Renewal Area B.

Zoning hearing

A public hearing on a proposed amendment to zoning ordinances will be held Oct. 7 at 7:15 p.m. The matter concerns the former public health building at 821 Seneca St, which is currently zoned C2. Members of the Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal Church have expressed an interest in purchasing the building for a place of worship, which is not currently allowed in the current zoning regulations.