Rompot residents seek to join lawsuit over Cargill’s construction of a new Cedar Rapids rail yard

The site where Cargill plans to build their 12-track, 200-car rail yard, Nov. 27, 2019. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

The pushback against a future Cargill rail yard near the Rompot neighborhood and Prairie Park Fishery is continuing, and this week a group of Rompot residents filed motions seeking to join a pending lawsuit that challenges the Cedar Rapids City Council’s decisions to amend the future land use map and plan to rezone nearly 17 acres of land.

In December, Rob and Kate Hogg filed two petitions in Linn County District Court, one challenging the future land use map and the other challenging the rezoning. The petitions ask the court to suspend development of the property until the legal challenge is resolved, and to overturn the council’s decisions.

On Tuesday, six Rompot residents and the nonprofit Protect the Prairie Park Corridor (PPPC) filed motions to intervene in both the legal challenges to the rail yard. (A motion to intervene is a request by individuals or groups who will be impacted by the outcome of a legal proceeding but weren’t initially part of it to join the proceeding.)

“The intervention request is a modest, but exceedingly important, chapter in a larger story about how law-abiding residents, homeowners and business owners, having made important investments in their homes and neighborhoods, and, in reliance upon the City’s and Cargill’s past actions and statements, are standing up and pushing back against the City’s actions to accommodate this politically-influential corporate entity’s change-of-heart on a major railyard-siting-decision,” according to the Tuesday filing.

PPPC is a nonprofit corporation that was formed in January and “whose members share a long-standing, common interest in the preservation of the Prairie Park Corridor,” according to the legal brief. PPPC currently has 32 dues-paying members.

The six people who joined PPPC in the motions — Jeremiah Kenny, Ronald Lippe, Michael Noke, Louwanna Morris, John Schriner and Kerry Sanders — live near the planned rail yard site and are members of PPPC, but decided to pursue the motion individually.

Cedar Rapids residents and Cargill employees at the Dec. 17 Cedar Rapids City Council meeting. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

Concerns cited in the motions include many of the same points that have been brought up at past city council meetings, including the land’s designation as a pollinator zone, concern about property values decreasing and various environmental impacts.

Lippe, who has lived on Helen Court SE since 2005, brought up flooding concerns in his affidavit of support, accompanying the new filing.

“During the 2008 flood, I had nine feet of water in my basement,” Lippe said in his affidavit. “I also have to call the city every year because the city lot adjacent to my property fills with water each spring, and the flooding comes within 10 feet of my front door. I worry that the Cargill rail yard moving in will exacerbate the flooding I already experience.”

The Hoggs and the city council have until Feb. 21 (10 calendar days from the filing date) to respond to the motions to intervene.

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