The proposed annexation of a steel fabrication plant into the city of Ucon has been causing controversy for weeks. The planning and zoning commission turned the issue over to the city council without a recommendation, due to a lack of information, they said.
On Wednesday night, the council unanimously voted to send two members, and the mayor, to visit one of Cives Steel Company's existing plants.
The trip is expected to happen before the next public hearing, which the council scheduled for the first week of October. The idea is to have those members visit a plant in either Indiana, Mississippi or Georgia to get a first-hand look and bring back more information for that hearing.
Council members emphasized that only new and factual testimony and information be collected as they move forward and build upon what was gathered by the planning and zoning commission.
For example, said council member Terry Hansen, there has been speculation that property values will decline when the plant is built nearby. At the first hearing, Cives representatives said they've seen the local quality of life and values increase in past cases. Hansen suggested both sides consult with several appraisers for a professional opinion, rather than just speculating.
An attorney for Cives presented a big box of what he said was new information to the council Wednesday night.
There was also quite a crowd. Roughly a couple dozen local people attended, many of whom said the issue is dividing the small community.
Council member Nadine Ball said she's not sure where the money will come from to fund the trip to a Cives plant.
The Ucon city council will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. inside the Ucon Elementary School gymnasium. It will be the third overall public hearing on Cives' request for annexation, a zone change, and an amendment of the city's comprehensive plan to allow for construction of a new 100 thousand square foot plant.