Council approves rail loop projectThe Jamestown City Council gave approval to the Spiritwood Energy Park Association rail loop project during its meeting Monday. The issue was removed from the consent agenda by Charlie Kourajian, councilman. It passed unanimously with members Ken Schulz and Ramone Gumke absent because of work commitments.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown City Council gave approval to the Spiritwood Energy Park Association rail loop project during its meeting Monday.
The issue was removed from the consent agenda by Charlie Kourajian, councilman. It passed unanimously with members Ken Schulz and Ramone Gumke absent because of work commitments.
The project would combine land owned by Great River Energy and the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. into the Spiritwood Energy Park Association. In addition, JSDC would invest $3.75 million to develop a rail loop to provide rail service to tenants in the energy park. The JSDC would own 71 percent of the energy park association.
“In light of a couple of letters to the editor and the number of people in attendance, we should discuss this,” he said.
Kourajian said the approval was contingent on the construction of a corn-ethanol plant beginning in spring 2012.
“I wonder if those letters reflect that the loop won’t get built unless the ethanol plant is built?” he said.
John Grabinger was the only member of the public to speak to the issue.
“I wasn’t going to speak because I said everything in the letter,” he said. “If this won’t get built unless the ethanol plant is built next spring, why don’t you table it until then? We have two members absent for this very big decision and we should allow the public to hear more about this. They only heard about this two weeks ago.”
Mayor Katie Andersen responded that the ethanol plant needed the commitment to attract financing.
Andersen explained that the expenses and a return on investment to the JSDC would be paid by the tenants of the energy park even if there was only one business located there.
“There will be about $200,000 every year coming back to the economic development funds,” Andersen said.
The City Council also heard a status report on the quiet zone for Jamestown’s railroad crossings.
“Approximately Christmas time, we should anticipate the silence of the horns,” said Jeff Fuchs, city administrator.
Fuchs reported that the Notice of Enforcement had been signed and forwarded to the Federal Railroad Administration. The FRA and other agencies have 21 days to comment. After that, the quiet zone goes into effect at all the crossings in Jamestown.
“There may be a learning period for the engineers to learn not to use the horns,” Andersen said. “And they are allowed to use the horns if they see danger so it won’t always be silent.”
The City Council also agreed to revisit Clarice Liechty’s challenge to the property tax exemptions issued to Prairie Apartments.
Liechty is challenging the exemptions given to the owner of Prairie Apartments on the grounds he is not offering the services he promised when seeking the exemptions.
Fuchs said the authorization to reconsider the exemptions would be reviewed with the city attorney to determine the next steps.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com