Loess Hills development

Sioux City developer Rod Lieber has proposed to excavate the hill above North Middle School to create a new housing subdivision. Mayor Bob Scott said Lieber will likely next week withdraw his request for the city to rezone the property.

SIOUX CITY – A developer's controversial plan to excavate loess soil for a housing addition on the city's north side likely will be withdrawn next week, Mayor Bob Scott said Wednesday.

Scott said Rod Lieber is expected to withdraw his request for the City Council to rezone the site on 41st Street from agricultural to suburban residential.

“We’ll know Monday,” Scott said. “They’re probably going to withdraw their plan ... possibly revisit” it.

Reached Wednesday by a Journal reporter, Lieber declined comment.

Lieber’s plan to excavate the roughly 35-acre site north of North Middle School had drawn criticism from some neighborhood residents and advocates for the Loess Hills, warning the construction could have devastating ramifications to the environment and surrounding ecosystem.

“Surely the prime consideration should be the safety of 300+ school children and personnel,” referencing the safety of local children and North Middle School students, Karen Heidman wrote in a letter to the Journal. “The Loess Hills have been described as fragile giants for good reason."

Heidman also cited the proximity of the proposed construction site to the middle school, saying "The safety of children should not be sacrificed to housing, no matter how much it is needed.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted June 25 to recommend to the council to rezone the site. The City Council deferred a decision at its July 8 meeting.

At the meeting, council members wrestled with the benefits of the housing development versus the environmental and safety concerns of some citizens.

Councilwoman Rhonda Capron, who said she was leaning toward a no vote, claimed the project could potentially alter the quality of life for neighborhood residents. 

Councilman Dan Moore urged both sides to work toward a compromise. 

Scott said the council will be presented with more information on the project at their meeting Monday but did not elaborate.

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