City leaders from around the state say they need to retain their powers to seize land for economic development projects. A bill that has already cleared the Iowa House would put new limits on local governments when officials try to condemn or seize property for development.
Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol is against any major changes in the powers cities have to condemn and seize property. “We’ve used it for redevelopment of slum and blighted areas,” Buol says. “It’s a tool that we really attribute much of our success to.” Buol points to the former Dubuque Star Brewery as a case in point.
“Because of the multiple ownership, there was no way we could get any resolution on who had the say, so it was actually something that was kind of an amenable way to solve that situation.”
Cedar Rapids Mayor Kay Halloran says the former Farmstead facility in her city is another case showing the need for cities to retain the power to seize blighted property. “We’re sitting there with a whole bunch of, what, 30 acres that is doing absolutely nothing right now,” Halloran says. “Either somebody has to do something it or (the city council members) have to take it so we can do something with it.” The mayors of some of Iowa’s larger cities met in Des Moines Wednesday.