CEDAR RAPIDS — The Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District board of directors is asking the City Council to require Penford Products Co. to install a "significant landscaping buffer" and not to increase noise or odor if city agrees to sell the corn-processing plant a city park to expand closer to the village.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Main Street District’s board said it supports economic development and job creation in the city and it said it "welcomes" the idea of development that would bring new industrial jobs to the area.
The board said Penford "has overall been a good neighbor to our district," but the board expressed concern that Penford does not yet have a specific expansion proposal and, and as a result, its neighbors did not what odor and noise might come with an expansion.
The board asked that the city require Penford to "quantify and guarantee" a commitment to a zero increase in noise and odor. The board also wants the buffer between the plant and the 12th Avenue bridge to be "significant" and include large trees.
"We fear that any increase in noise and odor pollution will cause development in the Main Street District to be reversed," the statement said.
The Main Street District’s position differs from the one of Czech Village’s best-known attraction, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.
The museum’s library board on Monday said it opposed Penford’s proposal to buy the city’s 11-acre Riverside Park between the plant and the upstream side of 12th Avenue bridge because the expansion would hurt the "visitor experience" at the museum.
The museum moved to higher ground after the 2008 flood and now backs up to the downstream side of the 12th Avenue bridge.
The City Council is holding a public hearing on the Penford proposal at its Tuesday meeting, which begins at 4 p.m. at City Hall, 101 First St. SE.
Mayor Ron Corbett, though, said Monday said the City Council expects to take a couple months to sort through the Penford proposal before it takes any vote on it.
Penford held three public meetings last week to explain its possible expansion plans to the community.
No certain plan is in hand, but the company believes it needs the park property so it can show potential partners that it has room to expand, Tim Kortemeyer, Penford’s president and general manager, said last week.An expansion, he said, could add between 20 and 50 workers to the 225 that Penford now employs at the plant.