Cargill will provide an update to Cedar Rapids residents on Wednesday about rail yard plans

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Cargill rail car on railroad siding in Cedar Rapids, Aug. 29, 2019.– Zak Neumann/Little Village

Cargill will be updating Cedar Rapids residents on Wednesday about the planned rail yard in the Rompot neighborhood. The company is also soliciting feedback from people in the neighborhood “on specific design elements of the rail yard,” according to a letter sent to Rompot residents in late December and posted on the city of Cedar Rapids website.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Jan. 20 event will be held virtually. The hour-long update is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

The letter includes a link to join, as well as information for individuals who want to participate by phone.

Dial-in Info:
Participant Toll-Free Dial-In Number: (888) 366-1221
Participant Toll-Free Dial-In Number: (877) 820-5028
Conference ID: 5197693

Progress on the controversial rail yard was largely put on hold in 2020 due to pending litigation and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cargill, a Minnesota-based multinational corporation focused on agricultural goods and services, has been trying to get a rail yard in Cedar Rapids for about two years. Cargill has said having its own rail yard is necessary for its Cedar Rapids operations to be cost-effective in the future.

Throughout the two years, plans have shifted back and forth between the city-owned property south of Stewart Road and the “farm property” on Otis Road. Both sites border the Rompot neighborhood.

Cargill came back with a proposal for a rail yard on the Stewart Road site after its Otis Road/farm property proposal was killed by the city council in August. — Map courtesy of the city of Cedar Rapids

Cargill’s farm property plan was withdrawn in August 2019 after the city council declined to vote on the City Planning Commission’s recommendation that the rail yard be declared an “essential service.” Cargill then switched back to the site they originally wanted — the Stewart Road location. Cargill had initially abandoned the plan for a Stewart Road rail yard due to local opposition.

Throughout the nearly two-year process, residents living in or near the Rompot neighborhood have been vocal about their opposition to the plan. Cargill employees and a handful of residents expressed their support for the proposal because of the jobs Cargill brings to the community, and fear those jobs may be threatened if the rail yard is not built.

The city council approved amending the city’s future land use map and rezoning the Stewart Road property in late 2019.

Following that approval, state Sen. Rob Hogg and Kate Hogg filed two petitions in Linn County District Court against the Cedar Rapids City Council, challenging the decisions. Both petitions were denied in late July 2020.

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