No rezoning approval for Orascom fertilizer plant

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Iowa’s Scott County Planning and Zoning Commission denied approval last week for a proposed $1.3 billion fertilizer plant. The commission voted to not rezone more than 300 acres of farmland into heavy industrial.

Although the decision is not binding, the Board of Supervisors takes up the request with a public hearing on Aug. 2. If the board passes the rezoning issue, the next step will be to get a special use permit.

Several Iowa and Illinois counties have been vying for the fertilizer plant. Lee County in Iowa has also offered a site and included an incentive package that included a $2 million state grant, low-interest and forgivable loans and other incentives. The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce says the best site to fit the bill is in Scott County and the other sites are not under serious consideration by the company.

Although Illinois has not offered any incentives to Orascom, officials there still say the state is fighting for the fertilizer plant.

“Illinois has been very aggressive,” said Debi Durham, Iowa economic development chief, to the Des Moines Register.

However, Durham denied that the Iowa cities are in a bidding war. “Each community is looking at different things they can do, and each site is different.”

Durham explained that Orascom’s pull out from Lee County is illustrative of why Iowa needs to move ahead with pre-certifying mega sites for development. She said the state is looking at eight sites that could be named mega-sites for development.  

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