DYERSVILLE, Iowa (AP) — Some rural Dyersville residents are fighting to stop a fertilizer facility from being built near their homes.
The Telegraph Herald reports that earlier this month, Dubuque County Zoning Commission members recommended approving a request to rezone 10.44 acres on Iowa 136 south of Floyd Road from agricultural to heavy industrial use.
Three Rivers FS, the company that submitted the rezoning application, plans to build a fertilizer facility equipped with two anhydrous ammonia tanks. The facility would replace a former site in Earlville.
Kory Manternach's home sits about a quarter-mile from where the tanks would be installed. He said he is willing to do whatever it takes to prevent the fertilizer facility from taking shape.
"If this happens out at my property, then it can happen anywhere else," he said. "We need to stand up against this."
Manternach said he has several issues with the facility, including the potential impact on traffic. Vehicles pulling tanks full of anhydrous ammonia onto the road could create hazards, he said.
"If you're coming up over the hill where that plant will be located, you can't see anything," he said. "My kids' school bus comes through here, and I know those anhydrous tanks will create problems."
Rural Dyersville farmer Jeff Pape sold the land to Three Rivers FS and serves on the company's board of directors. Pape said there have been no traffic issues at the company's other sites in Dubuque County.
Pape also said he was not involved with the company's decision to purchase the land.
Manternach said he wants City of Dyersville officials and local residents to "get involved" and voice their displeasure to county leaders.
But he said he feels city officials are unwilling to do so because of Pape's involvement in a years-old zoning lawsuit. The proposed fertilizer site is not in the city limits.
Pape is a member of the Residential and Agricultural Advisory Committee, a group of area landowners that sued the City of Dyersville in 2012 over the City Council's decision to rezone the Field of Dreams movie site for commercial use.
"Pape knows what he's doing, and he knows he can get away with it," Manternach said. "How can you file a lawsuit for improper zoning when we have the exact same problems he does? I'd rather have a baseball field in my backyard than a chemical plant."
Pape said he feels the two cases have more differences than similarities.
"They are trying to say it's a 'not in my backyard' thing, but I'm involved with the Field of Dreams lawsuit because there was an illegal zoning action by the city. That's it," Pape said. "This fertilizer facility is an agricultural business for an agricultural area, not a baseball park."
City Council Member Teresa Bockenstedt said council members have not voiced opinions on the facility because they have no ability to impact the zoning change.
"We figured it wasn't our place to say anything," Bockenstedt said. "This is really out of our hands, and I don't think it would do any good to say anything."
Dwayne Gravel, Manternach's neighbor, said several people have recommended Three Rivers FS build its facility in Dyersville's industrial park. The park already is home to a fertilizer site from a different company.
"I can't believe the zoning board and (Dubuque County) Board of Supervisors are crazy enough to go along with this," Gravel said, noting he will ask to have his land rezoned to heavy industrial use if the plant is built. "The taxpayers paid for this industrial park, and these are the things it is meant for."
The zoning board's recommendation has not been considered by Dubuque County supervisors yet.
Pape said Dyersville Fire Chief Al Wessels endorsed putting the facility north of Dyersville rather than in the industrial park, which is closer to heavily populated areas.
"They considered that (industrial park location), but the prevailing winds to the southwest could put hospitals, schools and other buildings in Dyersville at risk if there was an accident," Pape said.
Pape said Three Rivers FS never has had a fertilizer facility accident.
Wessels could not be reached for comment Friday.
"They talk about not wanting to put highly populated areas at risk, but what about the surrounding residents of this plant?" Manternach asked. "We also don't want to be victims to an accident."
Dubuque County supervisors will consider the rezoning on April 11.
Manternach said he will be there to argue for his neighborhood.
"If we fail there, I'll have to call up my lawyers and see what options we have," Manternach said. "I can't let this happen to my family's home."