Illinois-bound drivers will see some changes due to I-74 bridge construction modifications.

Illinois-bound drivers will see some changes due to I-74 bridge construction modifications.

Traffic patterns near the I-74 bridge in Illinois and Iowa will change once again this spring as work continues on the bridge and highways carrying traffic from one state to the other. The Iowa DOT provided a comprehensive review of progress to-date and plans for the future to the Bi-State Regional Commission and its members at the group’s December 18th meeting.

The City of Riverdale is a member of the Bi-State Regional Commission.

Construction progresses

Progress continues on both sides of the river. In Illinois, construction is headed into its third year with work more than half-way done. Over $147 million has been spent to-date diverting roads, building new bridges and ramps to the new bridge structures.

In Iowa, work in downtown Bettendorf has been underway a bit longer and $31 million of the budgeted $33 million has been spent on the “Westbound Viaduct” portion of the project. Other paving and related work north of Mississippi Blvd started in the spring of last year and appears to be nearing the half-way point. Work is expected to begin on the “Eastbound Viaduct” portion of the project this coming summer (a contractor should be selected in June/July).

The biggest part of the entire project is the construction of the new bridge spans and destruction/dismantling of the old spans. The construction part of the project is estimated to cost somewhere around $342 million. Of that, more than $256 million has already been paid. The destruction/dismantling project is scheduled for bidding this spring with selection of a contractor set for the first part of 2020. The estimated cost for removal of the old bridge is expected to run around $21 million.

Traffic patterns are expected to change this spring

Part of the report made by DOT included an explanation of projected traffic pattern changes in Bettendorf and Moline due to the progress of the construction. Current plans for Iowa and Illinois-bound drivers are as follows:

In Bettendorf:

If you’re headed south on I-74 from north of Middle Road, make note of the fact you will not be able to exit once you pass the Middle Road exit until you get to Moline. So if you need to go to downtown Bettendorf, you should exit at Middle Road, head east to Kimberly and then proceed down Kimberly Road to downtown Bettendorf (Grant Street/US 67 Access).

If you’re headed south on I-74 to Illinois, be prepared to shift from two lanes of southbound traffic to one lane of shared north/south traffic on the northbound side of the road once you pass Middle Road. Once you pass over the crest of the hill and are headed downhill to the river, you’ll be able to shift back to the left-hand lanes before merging with on-coming traffic from the Grant Street and State Street on-ramps in downtown Bettendorf.

If you’re coming into Iowa from Illinois, you’ll still need to take the first exit off the bridge which will bring you to Grant Street/US-67. From there you can head to Davenport (left) or Bettendorf and Riverdale (right).

If you want to continue north on I-74, you’ll need to proceed through the Grant Street/US-67 intersection and get back on the 14th street on-ramp. This traffic pattern is currently in place.

In Moline:

The initial plan for handling the I-74 traffic in Moline attempted to keep all the traffic on or near the existing highway which caused some confusion for people who were trying to get to downtown Moline rather than across the river (see original plan illustration).

Iowa-bound traffic will separate from downtown-bound traffic at the Avenue of the Cities on-ramp with Iowa-bound traffic getting on I-74 and heading to the end of the re-constructed highway, just past River Drive. After making a U-turn onto the exit ramp of the new bridge, drivers will need make a right to get back on the on-ramp to the current bridge and head north into Iowa.

For downtown-bound traffic, they can either get onto 19th Street from the intersection of I-74 and Avenue of the Cities or, if they’re already on I-74, they can take the 7th Avenue exit to downtown. The 7th Avenue exit will require drivers to make a right onto 7th and then two blocks later, a left onto 23rd Street.  From there, drivers can chose to take 4th Avenue or River Drive into downtown Moline.

Illinois-bound drivers coming across the bridge from Iowa can take the River Drive exit which loops under I-74 and ends at a stop light on River Drive. From there, they can turn left (to gain downtown access) or right (to head towards East Moline).

For drivers who want to continue into Illinois, they must take the 7th Avenue exit once they cross the river and then wind through two lanes of traffic to get onto 19th Street and head south. That street eventually crosses under I-74 a second time and brings drivers to the west side of the I-74/Avenue of the Cities interchange. From there, drivers can head straight to get back on I-74 or make a left or right into Moline.

The result of all these changes is projected to be an additional 2-3 minutes of commute time. But the reduction in traffic will allow the road projects on the Moline side to be completed on time (avoiding nearly $7 million in cost overruns due to delays) and no further route alterations made until the Iowa-bound bridge is complete (reducing confusion).

New traffic signals at Arconic gate entrance should be operational by January 8th.

New traffic signals at Arconic gate entrance should be operational by January 8th.

Woods Estates of Riverdale developer, Seth Woods, informed the city that he’s finally received confirmation of a plan to have the new traffic control lights at the Arconic main entrance operational by the close of business on Tuesday, January 7th.

“Davenport Electric is done. MobioTrex is contracted by them (DECCO) and the City of Bettendorf to do the hook up in the control box and that is scheduled for January 7th – which is the soonest they were available to come.” Mr. Woods then continued, “If nothing goes wrong, the lights will be working by the end of the day.”

Concerns about the way traffic was being handled at the intersection of State Street/Hwy 67 and the new Madison Drive (leading into Woods Estates) have been raised by citizens, Arconic, the City and the Developer. The mayor and Mr. Woods have been busy contacting contractors and Bettendorf and DOT officials to try and accelerate bringing the new lights at the intersection on line.

The result has been a reduction in the time usually required to bring new lights and cameras online. “It usually takes as long as a year to get everything done,” explained Mr. Woods. The light poles (with lights and cameras) were installed at the intersection less than 90 days ago.

In the interim, the Developer erected a temporary stop sign to remind motorists leaving the Woods Estates subdivision they had to stop and yield to traffic on State Street.

But what about the lights at Bellingham?

For residents wanting to know the status of the lights and cameras at the Bellingham/State Street intersection (near the entrance to Brenny’s), work on that intersection is not currently scheduled. The City and Arconic will be meeting in 2020 to discuss the future of Bellingham Road which has not been significantly improved since its construction nearly 60 years ago. The cost of bringing Bellingham Road up to SUDAS standards is estimated to be $1.5 – $2 million and will require support from sources other than the City of Riverdale.

The lights at the intersection are in need of new cameras, timing and integration into the traffic control system managed by the City of Bettendorf. The estimated cost for that is $25 – $30,000 and would, ideally, be included in the re-build of Bellingham Road, if that project can get funded.

So, for now, no modifications are planned for that intersection.

Riverdale P&Z recommends approval of Woods Estates Phase 1 final plat

Riverdale P&Z recommends approval of Woods Estates Phase 1 final plat

Riverdale’s Planning & Zoning Commission met for the first time in 2019 on Wednesday, December 18th, to hold a public hearing and eventually pass along their recommendation to the City Council to approve the final plat for the first phase of the Woods Estates of Riverdale subdivision. The nearly 2-1/2 hour meeting included a lengthy

Developer Seth Woods reviewing differences in the final plat of Phase 1 versus the approved, preliminary plat (approved in July of 2018).

discussion of the project in general with developer Seth Woods present to answer questions from the public and commissioners.

All commissioners were present either in person or telephonically with the exception of Jim Behrens. With P&Z Chair Bill Briesch out of town (but present via speakerphone), Vice Chair Wendy Syverud ran the meeting and gaveled the public hearing into order a little after 7pm.

Vice Chair Syverud explained to the nearly 20 people present that letters had been sent to all property owners owning land within 1,000 feet of the boundaries of Phase 1 informing them of the hearing and pending action before the Commission. She also reviewed the facts that letters asking for comment had also been sent to MSA Professional Services (the City of Riverdale’s engineering consultant) and various Scott County departments as required by law. While a response has been received from MSA, no residents or county officials had responded with questions or concerns as of the time of the meeting.

MSA Professional Services letter provides review of entire project to-date

The final review/recommendation letter from Engineer Chris Cooper (of MSA Professional Services) provided a comprehensive review of the steps taken to review and document progress on the Woods Estates project. Together with attachments showing correspondence and notes where necessary, the document provides a clear summary as to where the project currently stands and what final items still need to be completed even after the approval of the final plat.

Several pages of engineering drawings for the phase (prepared by the Developer’s engineering firm, J+M) were marked up by Mr. Cooper and sent along to the City to help explain/illustrate some of the items discussed in his correspondence.

Concerns about Woods Estates from Deerbrook residents

Also in attendance at the public hearing were several residents from the Deerbrook neighborhood in Bettendorf whose property either abuts or looks into the back-end of the Woods Estates subdivision. Comments ranged from surprise to concern about wildlife, erosion problems and the increased possibilities for home invasions and property crimes in the neighborhood.

Developer Seth Woods shows the location of green space between the entire Woods Estates subdivision and the Deerbrook neighborhood in Bettendorf.

While none of the concerns related to the approval of the Phase 1 final plat, both the members of the P&Z Commission and other city officials present (most notably, the city administrator and mayor) tried to address each issue. Concerns about preserving wildlife habitat and dealing with erosion problems in the waterway running from the end of Fieldcrest around the northwest corner of the city and between the subdivisions were discussed extensively.

City resident Steve Townsend explained how important it was that the wild areas Deerbrook residents wanted to see remain undisturbed be managed in a way to reduce the amount of invasive vegetation and to work on improving the quality of timber in the area. Mayor Mike Bawden explained that although the goal is to have the area remain a fairly undisturbed wild space, there would have to be some construction activity in the ravine in the near future to deal with the drainage issues.

The residents most concerned about the plight of the deer and other creatures living in the wilderness behind their homes were invited to participate in the City’s on-going parks planning process to they could contribute their thoughts and suggestions for consideration as Riverdale formalizes its parks and land management strategy for the future.

Developer answers questions remaining from October 2018 P&Z meeting

Following the public hearing, the P&Z Commission continued with its meeting and took up consideration of its recommendation regarding the approval of the final plat for Phase 1.

The three main issues raised by the commission at that time were:

  • The need for design covenants for the subdivision.
  • The lack of any kind of written plan for the replacement of trees/foliage resulting from the developer’s activities.
  • The failure to reimburse the City of Riverdale for out-of-pocket costs incurred on behalf of the project.

Developer Seth Woods explains how future phases will be presented to the P&Z Commission and City Council with production timelines for each phase.

Mr. Woods addressed the questions about architectural covenants for the subdivision by showing that covenants (reviewed and approved by the City’s attorney and administrator) were completed and part of the record provided for review. Mr. Woods also invited any commissioner or resident interested in viewing those covenants at work to visit the Walsh Pointe development on Utica Ridge Road (across from Crow Valley). The covenants Mr. Woods established for Woods Estates are the same.

Next, Mr. Woods reviewed the foliage plan for Woods Estates and explained that he would be replacing the trees taken out as part of the development process with more than 1,000, higher quality trees. Documents provided earlier to the Riverdale City Council and then to the P&Z Commission showed photos of how the landscaping would look (again, using Woods’ own Walsh Pointe development as an example).

Finally, with regard to the financial situation between the City of Riverdale and Woods Development, the mayor reviewed the details of the “agreement in principal” between the two parties and explained that an addendum to the current Development Agreement that spells out how expenses and reimbursement are to be handled in more precise language than what currently exists.

Plans for the future of Woods Estates of Riverdale

Mr. Woods expressed some regret as to how the first phase of this project progressed and told the commission he plans on presenting the final plat for Phase 2 earlier on in the process and won’t begin work on any of the infrastructure (roads and utilities) until he’s received approval on the plan. He also said he would provide a timeline for each phase as they are presented – both a requirement of the City’s ordinance and a helpful communications tool to make the entire process run more smoothly.

Following the open discussion, members of the Commission seemed satisfied and voted to recommend approval of the final plat of Phase 1 to the City Council.

The Council will meet to consider acceptance of the Phase 1 final plat following a public hearing on Tuesday, January 7 at 7pm.

 

 

Planning and Zoning Commission to review Woods Estates Phase 1 materials

Planning and Zoning Commission to review Woods Estates Phase 1 materials

The Planning & Zoning Commission of Riverdale will be holding a public hearing and convening a meeting to review, consider and take action regarding their recommendation to the City Council as to whether or not the final plat for Phase 1 of Woods Estates of Riverdale should be approved for sub-division. 

Below, you’ll find links to documents sent to the commissioners for their review. More documents will be added as they become available.

•  Approval of Subdivision Plat by the County Auditor 
•  Assessment Waiver 
•  Certificate of Attorney 
•  Certificate of County Treasurer 
•  Certificate of Owner – Ingleby 
•  Certificate of Owner – Woods 
•  Engineering Drawings 
•  Hold Harmless Agreement 
•  Surveyor’s Certificate

The public hearing is scheduled for 7pm on Wednesday, December 18th in the Community Room at City Hall.

Public hearings on the Phase 1 plat for Woods Estates set

Public hearings on the Phase 1 plat for Woods Estates set

Dates for the public hearings on the final plat for Phase 1 of Woods Estates of Riverdale have been set. The following letter went to households and property owners located within 1,000 of the plat under review/consideration:

Public Hearing:
Notice of Consideration for Final Plat Approval
for the Woods Estates Subdivision in Riverdale

You are being sent this notice of a Riverdale Planning and Zoning Commission Public Hearing and City Council Public Hearing since you reside or own property that is within 1,000 feet, more or less, of the proposed Woods Estates of Riverdale Subdivision Phase 1. These hearings will be held as noted below, and you are welcome to attend one or both and to be heard during the public hearings portion of the meetings.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
CITY OF RIVERDALE, IOWA
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION
FINAL PLAT REVIEW
WOODS ESTATES SUBDIVISION

Notice is hereby given that the Riverdale Planning & Zoning Commission will conduct a public hearing to consider the request for approval of the final plat of Phase 1 for the Woods Estates of Riverdale Subdivision. The hearing will be held on Wednesday, December 18, 2019 at 7:00 p.m., in the Council Chambers of Riverdale City Hall, 110 Manor Drive, Riverdale, Iowa 52722.

Notice is hereby given that the Riverdale City Council will also conduct a public hearing to consider the request for approval of the final plat of Phase 1 for the Woods Estates of Riverdale Subdivision. The hearing will be held on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 at 7:00 p.m., in the Council Chambers of Riverdale City Hall, 110 Manor Drive, Riverdale, Iowa 52722.

These hearing are both to be held pursuant to Sections 25.04 and 27.03 of the Riverdale Subdivision Ordinance and Chapter 362.3 of the Iowa Code, for the purpose of determining that the final plat and plans meet the minimum requirements of the City’s Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances.

All interested persons are invited to appear and be heard at the time and places listed above. Interested persons are also encouraged to submit written comments on these proposals to the City of Riverdale, Zoning Administrator, by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 for the Planning and Zoning Meeting and Thursday, January 2, 2020 for the City Council Meeting. Additional information is available at riverdaleiowa.com or from the Zoning Administrator by calling (563) 355-2511.

To review all of the material provided for review by the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council, click here (please note: the web page will be updated as more material becomes available).

City gives final authorization to issue up to $10,000,000 in conduit bonds

City gives final authorization to issue up to $10,000,000 in conduit bonds

The Riverdale City Council authorized the issuance of $10,000,000 in conduit bond financing on behalf of the new Wellspire senior living community currently being built in Bettendorf (near Middle Road and 53rd Street). The bonds do not encumber the City’s future bonding capacity and there is not contingent, financial liability to the community or its taxpayers.

The resolution passed at the December 10th meeting (click here to see a copy) is the final step in a process that began with a public hearing on the matter in September.

Interim City Administrator, Lisa Kotter, informed the Council that the City had received a legal opinion from legal counsel (Ahlers Cooney in Des Moines) that all of the paperwork was in good order and they saw no problems with moving forward. According to the email received from Jason Comisky at that office:

“The loan documents that bond counsel provided are substantially complete but will need some minor revisions and there are a few pieces of information missing.  That being said, the resolution attached to bond counsel’s email dated December 2, 2019 provides that the City is approving documents in substantially the form before the Council.  Meaning that there is still the opportunity to make changes. 

“We have no objection to the Council adopting the resolution provided by bond counsel with the caveat that there will need to be some relatively minor tweaks to the documents before the City executes those documents.  It probably wouldn’t hurt to make some record of those needed revisions on the record but we would not hold up the project or alter the resolution over what amount to relatively minor revisions.”

– Jason Comisky

All legal fees and preparation costs associated with this action taken by the City Council will be reimbursed by Wellspire and the City will receive an additional $10,000 fee as payment for providing the bonding assistance. The revenue will be put into the City’s General Fund reserve.

Council approves extension to Woods Estates of Riverdale preliminary plat.

Council approves extension to Woods Estates of Riverdale preliminary plat.

A special meeting of the Riverdale City Council was held on Monday evening (December 2nd) to consider extending the preliminary plat for the Woods Estates of Riverdale subdivision. The extension was requested by Woods’s attorney, Joseph Judge of Lane & Waterman. You can view that request here.

According to the City’s Subdivision Ordinance, the Council can grant an extension to a preliminary plat if a request is received from the subdivider and the Planning & Zoning Commission Chair provides his advice on the matter. In this case, the Commission Chair, Bill Briesch, advised against granting the extension, citing a variety of questions about the project and a desire for residents to be able to weigh in with their questions as well.

Residents present at the Council Meeting were granted time to ask questions and state their concerns for the record as part of the meeting. Mayor Mike Bawden added that while he shared the concern expressed by Chairman Briesch, there would be – in the mayor’s opinion – adequate time for people and P&Z Commissioners to research and ask questions as part of the review process for the final plat, but that the review of the final plat could not move forward if the preliminary plat was not extended.

The mayor also explained that the information originally reviewed and approved in the preliminary plat the first time (nearly 18 months earlier) had not changed. That information included:

•   a preliminary drawing showing the entire subdivision,

•   an example of the size of the proposed retention basins for the development (as an overlay over an existing subdivision), and

•   an elevation drawing showing the projected outflow of retained storm water from the proposed basins.

In the end, the resolution extending the expiration date for the preliminary plat passed on a vote of 4-0 (Council Member Chanon was not present to vote).

Special City Council Meeting planned to extend Woods Estates preliminary plat on Monday.

Special City Council Meeting planned to extend Woods Estates preliminary plat on Monday.

A special meeting of the Riverdale City Council is planned for 6:30 pm on Monday, December 2nd to grant an extension for the preliminary plat of the Woods Estates of Riverdale project. The meeting is scheduled to take place in Council Chambers prior to the public intake meeting for the FY21 budget, which is scheduled for 7pm.

A copy of the agenda for that meeting can be found here.

In a letter to the Mayor, dated November 29, Woods’s legal counsel, Joseph Judge, requested an extension for the preliminary plat to March 1, 2020 to allow for enough time to allow the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council to review the final plat, hold public hearings required by the City’s Subdivision Ordinance and take action.

“This firm (Lane & Waterman, LLP) represents Woods Construction & Development, Inc. (Woods), owner and developer of the plated property referenced above. On behalf of Woods, we hereby request an extension of the preliminary plat and the time period for filing and approval fo the final plat to March 1, 2020. We hope and expect that that final plat will be approved well before that time.”

A copy of that letter can be found here.

The City Council was prepared to take action on the initial plat extension request at its last regular meeting (held on November 26), but questions as to whether or not the preliminary plat approval had expired led to the Mayor and City Council to table the action pending further review. The initial plat had been approved in a previous City Council meeting (held in early July of 2018) and expired in February of this year.

Woods Development Subdivision Plat (Preliminary)

In order for the City Council to consider granting a new extension to the preliminary plat, a written request for the extension must be received from the subdivider (Woods) and the chair of the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission must advise on the extension (ref. Subdivision Ordinance, Ch 25.07).  Earlier today (Sunday, 12/01), the Co-Chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission, Bill Briesch, wrote that he was not comfortable with recommending the extension:

“I do not believe that we should extend the plat agreement as suggested. I believe the P and Z members as well as the residents should have the opportunity to be updated and able to voice, comment and vote their concerns.”

The Mayor disagrees with the P&Z Co-Chair.

“While I concur with the Chair that residents and commission members should have an opportunity to provide input on the subdivision plans, the preliminary plat doesn’t provide the detail required to have a substantive conversation. Furthermore, there have not been any changes made to the preliminary plat since its recommendation by P&Z and subsequent approval by the Council a little over eighteen months ago,” explained Mayor Mike Bawden.

“That’s why we felt it was appropriate to move ahead with granting the extension and focusing our time and efforts on getting the final subdivision plat through our review process. People have a limited amount of time during the holidays and it didn’t seem prudent to ask our P&Z Commissioners and City Council Members to take extra time out of their schedule just to “rubber stamp” the preliminary plat so the community can move on to reviewing and commenting on all of the detail provided with the final documentation on the subdivision plat.”

The City has received all of the required documents so the Planning & Zoning Commission can begin their review of the final plat for Woods Estates of Riverdale. The Commission will conduct a public hearing prior to considering and recommending approval or rejection of the final plat to the City Council. Dates for the public hearing and meeting of the P&Z Commission have yet to be set.

What happens next.

The special meeting of the City Council is still scheduled to take place on Monday evening. But a meeting with the City’s corporate counsel, staff and city leadership will take place earlier in the day to see what options are available to address concerns raised by the Planning & Zoning Co-Chair and by the Mayor. If the meeting is cancelled or re-scheduled, City Council Members will be notified by email and phone and an updated post will be made to the City’s website and social media.

 

Woods Development requests an extension for approval of the Woods Estates of Riverdale Phase I Preliminary Plat

Woods Development requests an extension for approval of the Woods Estates of Riverdale Phase I Preliminary Plat

(Updated 11-26-19) Following the publication of this original story, Riverdale’s Planning & Zoning Commission Chair, Bill Briesch, contacted the mayor to make note of the fact the commission had held no meetings in 2019, so the request for an extension was on a plat that had long-since expired. 

Records show the preliminary plat submitted by the developer (Woods Development) was approved by the Riverdale City Council in July of 2018, meaning the six-month window of opportunity to get the final plat approved had closed. This information was shared with the developer and P&Z Administrator (Tim Long, City Administrator) who are now investigating options and the proper way to move forward with review and subsequent approval of plans and plats so the Woods Estates of Riverdale subdivision can proceed.

(Original Story 11-25-19) In a letter dated November 20, 2019, attorney Jay Sommers asked the City of Riverdale to extend the period allowed for the approved preliminary plat of Phase 1 of the Woods Estates of Riverdale subdivision to be considered. The preliminary plat was originally approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council in late May of this year.

Mr. Sommers states that the regular time limit on the approved, preliminary plat is six months, but an extension can be requests. The letter sent to the City constitutes such a request.

The letter continues:

“Accordingly, pursuant to Sec. 25.07 of the City’s Subdivision Ordinance, please consider this letter a formal request for the City Council of Riverdale to grant an extension of sixty (60) days of the initial Preliminary Plat approval of Woods Estates of Riverdale – First Addition.”

A copy of the letter can be obtained by clicking here.

Developer provides photos of landscape design for new development

Developer provides photos of landscape design for new development

Developer Seth Woods provided photos of Walsh Pointe One – a housing development Woods Construction helped establish – as examples of the landscaping and foliage residents of Riverdale can expect once homes in the new Woods Estates of Riverdale project are completed.

In response to a request made by the City of Riverdale earlier in the year, Mr. Woods provided a written commitment to plant over 1,000 trees with diameters of 3″ or greater on the 100-acre development when it is finally completed. (Note: The TIF established for the project has a ten-year lifespan, so it is currently assumed the project will be completed before that – but economic conditions are a factor in the housing market and a slowdown may delay final completion.)

Mr. Woods’s statement, dated April 11, 2019 says:

Woods Construction & Development is responsible for the planting of 1,024 trees 3” diameter or greater. The covenants shall read “each lot/home is required to plant a minimum of 7 3” diameter trees”.  At a 116 lots x 8 trees each, we have 928 replanted trees.  The developer than will be planting the balance on the entrance, hillside and northeast property line of the development.

This statement squares with a previous one Mr. Woods made to the City Council back in August of 2018.

A gallery of images provided by Mr. Woods can be found below. The photos were taken from his home in Walsh Pointe.

Scott County hit with property tax assessment increase on multiresidential properties.

Scott County hit with property tax assessment increase on multiresidential properties.

The City of Riverdale was notified today (10/02) that the State of Iowa has ordered the Scott County Assessor to increase valuations on multiresidential and dual-classified properties by more than 20%. Three properties in Riverdale are effected by the order.

The notification from the Tom McManus, the Scott County Assessor read as follows:

I want to inform you that Scott County received an assessment equalization order from the Iowa Department of Revenue.  Multiresidential and Dual-Classified (multiresidential portion only) properties in Scott County will have their assessed values increased +21%.  No other class of property received an equalization order.  You may start hearing some feedback from multiresidential property owners in the community.  Please feel free to direct all questions to the County Assessor’s Office 563-326-8635 or assessor@scottcountyiowa.com.  We will answer all questions property owners have and also inform them of their right to appeal the new assessment and explain the process to them.  Only multiresidential property owners affected by the equalization order will have the right to appeal their new assessment. 

With this VERY LARGE INCREASE IN VALUE there will likely be some very confused and very upset property owners calling and coming in.  The Scott County Assessor’s Office is prepared.  If answering questions, our standard office answer will be as follows:  This is a new classification of property in Iowa (only since 2015), and this is the very first year the IDOR has equalized this class of property, and recent sales are showing that rental properties in Scott Co are selling on average for WAY more than we currently have them assessed.  If you disagree, you can appeal your assessment increase.   We will then explain the appeal process, and how to do it, and how they can run their own sales comps, and look at similar assessments for equity, etc. 

The County Auditor will be posing a public notice in the local newspaper(s) this week or next, and will then also be sending individual equalization assessment adjustment notices to all MR & D/C property owners on or before next Tuesday Oct 8th, a total of about 325 property owners in Scott County. 

The County Assessor’s Office is still in the process of protesting this +21% MR Equalization order with the IDOR, and there is a very, very small chance that it could still be removed or reduced before year end, but, in the meantime, we are required by law to apply the equalization order, mail new assessment notices to effected property owners, and start prepping for a Fall Board of Review session.   The good news, if any, is that there are only about 325 total MR & D/C parcels affected, or about 1% of the all properties in Scott County and less than 2% of total assessed value.  During the appeal process, property owners can ONLY protest the equalization order increase in value and can ONLY request to have it reduced or removed, and will still have to prove why this new assessed value is truly not representative of current fair market value.  By law, the during equalization sessions, BOR is not allowed to remove any more value than what was added due to the order increase.    

In the spring of 2019, the Scott County Assessor’s Office adjusted MR values in different parts of the county by different percentages as needed.  See attached sheet for total value adjustments from 2018 to the newly equalized values for these types properties in each city.  Overall, the County Assessor increased MR values in Scott Co an average 11.5% in the spring of 2019.   The main point being that the County Assessor did what he felt was needed, and allocated MR value adjustments around Scott Co, market by market, as data indicated.  We feel we did our job.  The neighboring and similar jurisdiction, Davenport Assessor’s Office reported they also increased Davenport, Iowa MR property values by an average of 11% for 2019.  Therefore, Scott County feels our MR assessment increases were in line with the neighboring assessing jurisdiction are therefore justified.  But, based on market sales, the IDOR feels we need to add more value to MR properties for 2019, and an equalization order was given. 

A summary report prepared by the assessor’s office can be found here.

If there is interest in learning more about this valuation increase, we are happy to facilitate a meeting with the assessor’s office. Just let us know in the comments section below.

(Updated) City conduct public hearing in support of Wellspire, LLC senior living project

(Updated) City conduct public hearing in support of Wellspire, LLC senior living project

(Updated 09-27-19) The Riverdale City Council did not review the conduit bond issue at its September 24th meeting (as originally planned), but will be conducting a public hearing on October 8th at 7pm instead.

That hearing will be held in advance of final consideration of a resolution authorizing the issuance of a $10,000,000 conduit bond to assist in the financing of Wellspire, LLC’s senior living facility to be located at Middle Road and 53rd Street in Bettendorf. More details on the bond under consideration and what it means to the City can be found in the article, below.

(Original Story) At its last meeting (on August 27, 2019), the Riverdale City Council unanimously approved entering into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Wellspire, LLC, a venture co-owned by Genesis Health Systems and WesleyLife. The agreement will allow Wellspire to utilize the city’s ability to issue “conduit” bonds totaling $10,000,000 to help finance a senior living facility to be located at Middle Road and 53rd Street in Bettendorf.

A formal announcement for the project, known as The Summit, was announced this past summer. The community will have over 100 independent living units as well as limited assisted and memory care units. There will also be twenty short-term, rehab suites and twenty medical suites at the facility. The total estimated cost of the project is in excess of $40,000,000.

The Council action, in the form of a resolution (Resolution 2019-29), authorized the mayor to execute the MOA with Wellspire, LLC on behalf of the City of Riverdale. The Council also authorized the mayor and city staff to take any other actions necessary to carry out the intent and purpose of the MOA, although the final decision whether to issue the bonds and the final amount of the issuance will be dependent upon further Council action (another vote).

The City Council will meet on September 24 at 7pm for a public hearing on this matter. Formal notice will be posted to the website, the City’s social media accounts, in the newspaper and on the bulletin board for such notices at City Hall.

 

What is a “Conduit Bond”?

Cities in Iowa are authorized by Chapter 419 of the State Code to issue bonds and loan the proceeds to a borrow to assist the borrower in financing projects like the Wellspire senior living community planned for Bettendorf.  Bonds issued under this chapter are common methods of obtaining federally tax-exempt financing for non-profit corporations engaged in projects like this.

A city can issue conduit bonds for facilities located within the city limits and anywhere within eight miles of the boundary of the city – that’s why Riverdale can issue bonds for a project in Bettendorf.

These bonds are referred to as “conduit bonds” because the city acts as a conduit between the purchasers of the bonds and the borrower. These bonds are typically purchased by institutional investors (e.g. banks) and the proceeds of those bond sales are loaned to the borrower according to a loan agreement in which the borrower (Wellspire) agrees to repay the bonds.

Once the bonds are issued by the city, the city steps out of the picture and the repayments are made directly by the borrower to the bond purchasers. The city has no accoutning or processing responsibilities.

 

Does issuing conduit bonds have an effect on the City’s bonding capacity?

The short answer is “no.” These bonds do not count against the City’s contintutional debt limit. As specified in the State Code (#419.3), these bonds would never constitute an indebtedness of the city and would not make the city liable for repayment in the case of default.

The only affect issuing the conduit bonds has on the City’s bonding capacity is in the year in which the bonds are issued. For example, if we issue the maximum amount as a conduit bond, we won’t be able to issue any more bonds for the rest of the calendar year. After December 31st, though, we are able to issue bonds again.

 

How big can a conduit bond be?

Cities are capped at $10,000,000 per year in conduit bond capacity each calendar year. The City Council will be considering this amount at the public hearing on September 24.

 

Where can you find more information?

Here is a link to the resolution passed by the Council at our August 27, 2019 meeting. It includes lots of back-up documentation and a fairly straight-forward explainer as to how conduit bonds work and what issuing those bonds would mean to the City. Please read it and come informed to the public hearing on September 24th.