Developer may bring new rental housing to Coalville

Supervisors: County should be ready for new construction

A developer may be building six new housing units in Coalville, the Webster County Board of Supervisors said Tuesday.

Michael Pearson has proposed three single-family units and three bi-attached single family units to be built on 240th Street in Coalville, Supervisor Mark Campbell said.

Pearson is planning to apply for Iowa Workforce Housing Tax Credits, which require a local match, Campbell said. Webster County will consider providing tax abatement on the properties to fulfill that local match requirement.

Pearson is also one of the developers planning to put up single-family houses on the Theiss Farm property in Fort Dodge.

“I suggest we do the minimum of $1,000 per unit in the form of a tax rebate,” Campbell said. “After the taxes are paid, we would refund him $1,000 per unit one time.”

This is still in the planning stages. To become official the supervisors would have to pass a resolution. They held a workshop Tuesday morning to talk about what that resolution needs to look like.

The Iowa tax credit is meant to spur new housing for people moving to the area, Supervisor Merrill Leffler said, adding that it applies predominantly to rental property.

There are a number of questions Leffler wants answered before the matter comes up for official vote. He said the county must be consistent in how it deals with any developer.

“I don’t believe we should pick and choose. I think we need to have a policy in place,” Leffler said.

This doesn’t mean they have to be locked in to one course of action, he added.

“I don’t want to see us locked down on anything,” said Supervisor Bob Thode. “We have to have some leeway because every situation is different.”

“Our policy might not say what we’re going to give, our policy might just say there is a process,” Campbell said.

Developers in Fort Dodge tend to take more time negotiating many kinds of benefits; Leffler suggested that might not be necessary in the county.

Of course, there are other things a developer could ask for like Tax Increment Financing that isn’t involved in this instance, he said.

“I think it’s a good idea that we start this process now,” Thode said. “Like you say, it took the city six months to get things rolling. We should have something in place so we know exactly which direction we need to roll, so we can get a groundbreaking in a reasonable amount of time.”

Leffler also said he believes the next step is adjusting the county’s zoning to help spur housing.

It’s a good topic to be discussing, Campbell said.

“I think it’s exciting we’re having a conversation about housing,” he said.

“There are a lot of people who want to live in a rural part of the county, not in a city,” Leffler said. “The county as a whole has a huge shortage of housing.

“Companies every day, that’s their No. 1 complaint,” he added. “Elanco out there just moved how many people to town? Most of them ended up living in Ames, because they couldn’t find a nice rental property in Fort Dodge. These types of housing are what needs to be built.”

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