Government

Market study of Linn County parcel intented for conservation, trail development nears completion

County plans to sell some of the land to developers

Prairie grasses are shown Sept. 9, 2016, adjacent to a wetland at Squaw Creek Park near Marion. A tract the county bought in 2016 is planned for conservation, adding to the 700-acre park. (The Gazette)
Prairie grasses are shown Sept. 9, 2016, adjacent to a wetland at Squaw Creek Park near Marion. A tract the county bought in 2016 is planned for conservation, adding to the 700-acre park. (The Gazette)

BACKGROUND

CEDAR RAPIDS — In 2016, the Linn County Board of Supervisors purchased 179 acres of land south of the Gardner Golf Course and 306 acres north of the golf course from the Sutherland Dows Family Trust for $7.2 million.

The northern tract of land is planned largely for conservation efforts, with hopes of adding to the nearly 700-acre Squaw Creek Park, creating water protection areas along the Squaw Creek corridor and allowing for the connection of the Sac & Fox and Grant Wood Trail systems.

County officials earlier this year unveiled a conceptual plan for the southern tract that included a mix of conservation, residential and agricultural uses. The concept design included plans to create a community just east of Cedar Rapids that would bring the land’s economic value up to about $100 million when complete.

Under the proposed plan, the county would be able to sell off parcels of land to developers, who would build out projects to specifications set by the county.

WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE

Les Beck, Linn County director of planning and development, said the Linn County Board of Supervisors has entered into a contract with Reynolds Urban Design, the consultant that worked on the concept plan, to put together a final plan for the site, which would include the mix of housing types, densities and streetscape designs.

“Phase 2 is kind of where the meat of the project is going to get developed in terms of design guidelines that developers would follow,” Beck said.

Following some concerns by neighbors over increased traffic and the project’s scope, Beck said officials are working on a traffic impact study and feasibility report on the project.

“We’re taking a look at the overall density and housing mix,” he said. “We are listening and paying close attention to what their concerns are and we are looking at the overall density. At this point it’s still in the analysis stage.”

Beck said the final report and market study could be completed in a matter of weeks.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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