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P&Z Commission casts unanimous thumbs up

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Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 10:00 am | Updated: 9:50 am, Wed Jul 18, 2012.

All-Star Ballpark Heaven hit another home run on Monday night.

The Dyersville Planning & Zoning Commission met July 9 to vote on whether or not to rezone property at the “Field of Dreams” movie site from A-1 Agricultural to C-2 Commercial. After hearing positives and negatives from area residents and professionals, the members voted 8-0 to send a positive commission report to the City Council. Next on the docket is the July 16 council meeting, when a public hearing date on the zoning request will be set for Aug. 6. At that time, the Council can act on or deny the first reading of the zoning ordinance.

The unanimous decision by the Commission came as a pleasant surprise for Go the Distance Baseball, LLC president and CEO Denise Stillman.

“(I’m) surprised and ecstatic,” Stillman told the Commercial after the meeting. “We didn’t expect a unanimous vote, but are thrilled that we were able to secure that.”

The development group has been on something of a roll lately. In the past three weeks, the City Council approved both a Memorandum of Understanding and the voluntary annexation of properties surrounding the “Field of Dreams” movie site. On July 8 at the Dyersville Social Center, Stillman held a public forum/presentation on the project, a meeting which she said went well.

“The vision we’ve had since Day 1 is still alive and well, and even more vibrant that the (Commission’s) vote is over,” Stillman said.

All was not rosy prior to the vote, however, as some area residents expressed their concerns with the project. Father and son Matt and Jack Mescher, both of whom spoke at the City Council meeting on July 2, again took turns at the microphone.

Jack Mescher’s worries revolved around irrigation and the amount of water that the complex would consume while Matt Mescher, referencing state code, stated that the 200-foot buffer on three sides of the property violates his right to protest the project and file an official complaint with the city of Dyersville.

According to city administrator Mick Michel, the City Council agreed to the 200-foot strip, which is in place to protect farmers’ rights. He also said the buffer is based on what the city did for the ethanol plant, which Michel called “a good litmus test.”

Commission member Dan Olberding, who was nominated as the night’s Chairperson, lives near the ethanol plant and said he initially opposed it, but has since learned to live with the facility. He’s hoping that the Meschers and others who are facing the same type of issues can do the same.

“I know what they’re going through,” Olberding said after the meeting. “People don’t like change, and this is a big change.”

Emotions ran high at times during the meeting. At one point, Olberding had to reprimand an audience member after the person slammed down a binder.

But the meeting ended on the positive side, with three attendees speaking to the economic boost that the project would bring to not only the Dyersville area, but the whole state of Iowa.

“I think everybody knows what it’s going to do for the town and hopefully fill up Main Street again,” Olberding said. “We don’t want restaurants to close. We want the town to grow. I think everybody on the commission has that vision.”

Carrie Koelker, who promotes Iowa tourism and is a baseball mom who travels across the state to attend tourneys like the ones that would be held at All-Star Ballpark Heaven, said that tourism is a $322 million industry in the state.

“I don’t know if some people realize how (enormous) this project is,” Koelker said. “It’s an opportunity that maybe doesn’t knock on our door everyday like this.”

© 2018 Dyersville Commercial. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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