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Forest City council's zoning ordinance adoption would allow new housing

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Forest City council members approved a first reading of zoning changes recommended by the city's planning and zoning commission during their Nov. 22 meeting. 

Final adoption of the zoning ordinance would allow for a new housing construction project to move forward, but six council members were not present at the meeting to waive a second reading. The matter could be addressed at the council's next regular meeting on Dec. 6

The developer is Soyland Homes, which has announced plans to build five single-family homes at an estimated $1 million project cost. Turnkey construction of the homes would be in the vicinity of the car wash located near the intersection of 4th and K Streets in Forest City.

Forest City Economic Development Beth Bilyeu said new homes would face the back of the Dollar General store and the front of the NAPA Auto Parts store. Lots for the project would include two city lots at a cost of $1 apiece, plus three Forest City Economic Development lots. 

Bilyeu said that with final approval and good weather, there is a possibility that some work could start yet this year, but next spring is the more likely timeframe for construction to commence.

Bilyeu also informed council members that a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Irish Hospital Apartments will be held at 2 p.m. on Nov. 30.

The council also unanimously approved Bilyeu's request to sponsor Forest City Economic Development applications to the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Applications include a $10,000 grant with $5,000 match for a childcare market study and $20,000 a rural return grant with a $10,000 match. Bilyeu said the rural return grant could benefit programs for encouraging people to move, assimilate, and stay.

In other business, the council approved:

Obligated tax increment financing (TIF) funds of $75,000 to Forest City Economic Development in fiscal year 2023 for its industrial marketing plan. This could help in securing a Revitalize Iowa's Sound Economy (RISE) grant through the Iowa Department of Transportation for paving on Quail Avenue on the south side of Forest City.

Obligated TIF funds of $25,000 to the Forest City YMCA daycare are to be used for community childcare needs in fiscal year 2023.

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at rob.hillesland@globegazette.com.

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