CEDAR RAPIDS — Neighbors failed to convince the city’s Board of Adjustment on Monday to block Alliant Energy’s plan to build a new electrical substation on three lots in the 2100 block of Mount Vernon Road SE.
The board’s vote was 4-1 to grant the required conditional use permit. The City Planning Commission in March recommended the permit on a 6-0 vote.
Nine neighbors told the board why they objected to the Alliant plan.
The neighbors said the substation would lower property values of the homes around it, would ruin the woodsy area on which the substation will be built and would pose a danger to one neighbor’s autistic child, who can wander from the house. The neighbors also worried about health risks from magnetic fields and interruption to HAM radio reception.
Vince Wolrab, 2121 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, said Alliant’s plan for the site, which extends to Van Vechten Park to the south, was akin to putting an electrical substation in the middle of Ellis Park. Wolrab said the proposed fencing with anti-climb wire around the substation would make him feel like he lived next door to the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison.
Doris Ackerman, of 1955 Fifth Ave. SE and a local Realtor, said the substation would harm property values of homes around it. She also accused Alliant of taking “the easiest path” by picking a site that is inexpensive to develop even though it is surrounded by homes, not commercial property.
Alliant will buy and demolish two homes to enlarge the site for the substation to 13 acres. The facility will comprise about an acre of the total, the city’s building staff told the board.
Alliant representatives said the substation is one of 27 new ones the company is building in Cedar Rapids to upgrade its system. To date, 16 of the 27 are now in place, they said.
Alliant representatives said the substation approved on Monday will replace four to five existing ones. Construction on the facility at 2123, 2133 and 2135 Mount Vernon Rd. SE facility will begin in late 2016 and be complete in 2017, they said.
The substation will come with decorative fencing, security fencing and landscape buffers. Its equipment meets all safety codes, Alliant representatives said. They submitted a report from a local appraiser, who said substations don’t impact property values over time.
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