Ames works with Story County, Gilbert on urban fringe plan, predicting how cities will grow

Danielle Gehr
Ames Tribune
City of Ames councilwoman Anita Rolling listens to the first City Council meeting of the year on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in Ames, Iowa.

Areas of expansion are back at the forefront as the City of Ames collaborates with the county and the City of Gilbert on its Urban Fringe Plan. 

The Ames Urban Fringe Plan, which was presented at Tuesday's Ames City Council meeting, is a collaboration between the city of Ames, Gilbert and Story County, predicting future land uses within two miles of the Ames boundary. 

Housing and Planning Director Kelly Diekmann said he is set to meet with Boone County officials to discuss how their urban fringe plans conflict. 

"We don't have control over Story County's land-use plan, just like Story County doesn't have control over our land-use plan," Diekmann said. "So by working together, we can cooperatively address different issues related to planning as well as subdivision."

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View the interactive, draft land-use framework map here. 

Ames development outside the current city limits is limited by agricultural land, Boone County to the west, Gilbert to the north and an agreement with Nevada that keeps Ames development to the west of 590th Avenue. 

Like in the Ames 2040 Plan, the city identified areas of growth south of Ames. Diekmann said after the meeting the city is hearing the same comments from people who are opposed to southern expansion that it did when approving the 2040 Plan.

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The city identified tier-one development east of South Duff Avenue, expanding about a mile north of Ames city limits in the 2040 Plan. 

The intent for annexation has some in unincorporated areas concerned, as they are opposed to paying city taxes, being under Ames control and being near development. Diekmann said annexation won't happen in the short term and depends on developer interest. 

Diekmann said the city is not interested in annexing rural subdivision identified on the map. 

Mayor John Haila said the council received a number of requests to speak Tuesday night, but public comment was not opened on the issue. The city is working on a three-meeting model for public input, Diekmann said, before bringing comments back to city council. 

Read more here. 

Nearly $1 million shortfall in downtown plaza project 

The council decided to move forward with the Ames Downtown Plaza project despite a nearly $1 million shortfall. 

The city made $4.5 million available for the project, which would bring an ice rink to downtown, but bids exceeded the anticipated costs. 

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The city received five bids ranging from $4.6 million to $4.9 million. Taking the lowest bidder would amount to $5.5 million total when factoring in additional costs. 

The city believes it could find areas to save money but will not make up for the entire shortfall. The one change that could meet the city's cost-saving needs is the ice components, which run about $1.2 million to $1.3 million, according to the staff report. 

Haila said it was a "burn to my saddle" to be this far into the project and find they have a shortfall. City staff said they did not receive an explanation from the consultant Confluence about why the bids were so far off the estimate but guessed supply-chain issues and inflation were factors. 

Council votes for first passage of utility rate adjustments

First passages of a rise in storm water and sewer rates were passed by the council Tuesday. 

The two adjustments will need to be voted on two more times before being approved to go into effect July 1. The council held a workshop April 19 that included the potential 5% increase to sewer rates. 

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For an Ames resident who typically pays $29.34 for sewer each month, their bill would increase to $30.81, an increase of $1.47, if passed next week.

Read more here. 

For tier-one areas, ranging in impervious surface area of 150 to 10,000 square feet, the rate from increase from $4.95 to $5.20. Tier-four areas, 90,000 square feet and above, would see rates increase from $44.55 to $46.80.

Read more here. 

Keeping up with council

For more information on future meetings, city documents and council agendas, visit CityOfAmes.org/CCmeetings. Find recordings of past meetings or watch future meetings live at YouTube.com/AmesChannel12.

Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at dgehr@gannett.com, phone at (515) 663-6925 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.