One of the legal obstacles to a proposed lake in southwest Iowa no longer exists. A group of Page County farmers calling itself “Citizens for Responsible Choices” has dropped its lawsuit challenging a 12 million dollar state grant for the West Tarkio Lake project. Mark Thompson, an attorney for the state, has seen the document filed by the group. Thompson says the dismissal itself is a two-sentence statement saying the group is dropping the lawsuit, but he says it doesn’t say why. The lawsuit had held up the Page County project as well as other projects that got state “Vision Iowa” grants that day, including plans for the Cedar Valley in Waterloo and Cedar Rapids. The lawsuit charged that the state’s Vision Iowa board hadn’t engaged in full and open discussion about the project before approving the grant. The group also charged the project was really a plan to provide water for Clarinda and Shenandoah and was just being disguised as economic development. Thompson, who serves as the staff attorney for the state’s Vision Iowa board, says it’s his understanding that the farmers behind the lawsuit own or rent farmland in the area that would be covered by the proposed lake. Thompson says since the lawsuit’s been dropped, Clarinda and Shenandoah can sign a contract now to get the “Vision Iowa” money. Thompson says a draft of the contract has already been written, and it should be reviewed then approved by the Vision Iowa board and both the Clarinda City Council and Shenandoah’s City Council. Another lawsuit filed against the cities was thrown out by a district court, and that decision’s been affirmed by the state Supreme Court.
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