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C-80 residents cite heavy, fast traffic

Monday, October 18, 2004

(Second in a series)

The Plymouth County zoning board was told last week by Sharleen Schlotman, 33665 Davesway Dr., and Jean Logan, 33299 Hickory Ave., that the zoning ordinance should be revised and they would be willing to help with the process.

Traffic in the area of County Road C-80 is a major reason for revising the zoning areas established in the 2000 ordinance, they indicated.

Schlotman presented traffic counts along U.S. Highway 75 as provided by the Iowa Department of Transportation, as of Jan. 1, 2004.

"I'd just like to review this so that you've got some background of what's happening and what's out there," Schlotman told the zoning board.

Looking at the maps printed from the IDOT Web site, Schlotman explained, "At the C-80 intersection of Highway 75, the traffic count is 15,500. As you progress north and cars turn off either direction, it decreases on the way up so at C-70 you have 14,400 cars per day; North of C-70 then you have 12,600 cars per day into Hinton; and then north of Hinton 11,400 cars per day and then on up Merrill, 11,400 per day; north of Merrill approaching the C-38 intersection is 11, 300 per day and so forth until Le Mars. And then, north of Le Mars, it branches off to 75 and Highway 60; 75 being 3,250 cars per day north and Highway 60, 4,370 cars per day north, north and south."

Using a different map from the Web site, Schlotman continued, "From a comparative point of view, I looked at Woodbury County."

Showing the map to the south, Schlotman said, "From 75, since the bypass is complete, that takes you to Highway 20 and then south to I-29, it's changed a bit since the bypass has opened, obviously. There's been an increase in traffic there. So, 15,500 cars per day is where you start at on the north end of the map on Highway 75 and following the bypass, you can see Highway 20 going east and west there. If you follow it all the way down, I-29 south of Sioux City supports 19,600 cars per day. Quite a bit. It's an interstate. If you go all the way down to the south end of Woodbury County, down by Sloan, there's 15,200 cars per day."

Schlotman said she had talked with IDOT officials about the amount of traffic in the area.

"That's less traffic than we have on Highway 75 going north out of Sioux City.

I thought that was an interesting thing because you just don't realize the traffic that is going through this four-lane highway. It's not an interstate. At that point, once we're in Plymouth County, it's not an interstate. We don't have the exit-entrance ramps. Everybody is going straight on-and-off the highway, with turn lanes where they're available."

Schlotman said the area from C-80 north to 325th Street has more than 100 homes, four subdivisions and the town of James. The rural residential subdivisions began in 1960. The covenants have been in place since those subdivisions were developed and have been maintained through their residential status. Residents in this area were shocked several months ago when they learned the map in question had this whole area zoned as commercial property because none of us realized that that was slated as commercial property and concern was raised."

If commercial development was expanded in the area, Schlotman said it would be the only part of U.S. Highway 75 "to accommodate commercial development without entrance or exit ramps to the highway or at reduced speeds. Other commercial developments located along 75, with few exceptions, are located in or near towns which have a 35 mile an hour speed limit or have exit ramps to get to them. There are very few exceptions to this. The one business I can think of is Taggert's Polaris and that is not a high-traffic business. It's off a gravel road. So, again, few exceptions."

Schlotman said residents of the area moved there to live away from commercial development.

"We would like to just preserve the residential housing developments and the quality of life we have there, maintaining the status quo and we ask that the safety of the residents and all travelers through this area be seriously taken into consideration for future decision making," said Schlotman.

"And we would like to support whatever formal action that you need to take to review and update the comprehensive plan and the map along with it to get the map reflective accurately with the current situation," said Schlotman. "We will support that process in any way, if it's handing out fliers to get information out to people. As Alan [Lucken, county zoning administrator] indicated to me a month or so ago, people don't realize what's going on until it really hits them at home."

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