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City Council unanimously passes permit deer hunting at Wildwood Golf Course

By Kelly Terpstra,

For six weeks this winter, bow hunters will have a chance to hunt deer within the Charles City city limits at Wildwood Golf Course.

The City Council voted 5-0 to allow bow hunters to each harvest one deer with a tag to control the population and limit a herd that is destroying several greens on the century-old links.

“There hasn’t been much of a problem in the past but all of the sudden this year we experienced a lot of problems on the greens,” said Tyler Mitchell, parks and recreation director.

Mitchell said two city employees are regularly fixing new greens (on hole Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6) that have been damaged by the deer near the back end of the course. Those greens have been used for three years now.

“That may be one reason why you’re seeing more because that used to be just habitat for the deer where now there’s golf holes,” said Mayor Dean Andrews.

The employees spend around an hour a day repairing divots and markings left by two families of deer. Mitchell said that has cost the city $1,350 in pay to the city workers over the course of five weeks.

“Even though we’re fixing the divots, you can still see all the hoof prints,” said Mitchell. “We just want to lower the numbers and hopefully at the same time scare the deer a little bit so they’re not constantly on Wildwood.”

Mitchell said he has considered alternatives to the planned hunt such as a sprinkler system or loud noise to deter the deer from causing a ruckus on the greens. The deer are most active on the greens from about 5 to 7 a.m.

“When it’s still light out you’ve got golfers out there. You really don’t want a timed sprinkler system soaking our golfers,” he said.

Mitchell said the deer are smart enough to know water won’t harm them and they’ll be back on the course soon thereafter.

Mitchell said he talked to Ross Ellingson, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources depredation biologist for Floyd County’s district.

“He said if we want to lower the population, this is about all we can do,” said Mitchell. “We can keep pouring money and pouring money into keeping them away. That’s only a couple-week solution.”

The bow hunt will start Nov. 1 after the golf course is closed for the season and a lottery system will determine the six hunters who will have access to the course. Hunters would be limited to harvesting one deer (doe or buck) each and would each have a week to do so.

Mitchell said four weeks in November and two in January would be when the hunts would take place. The hunts must be conducted from an elevated deer stand. All participants must follow Iowa DNR rules, guidelines drawn out by the city of Charles City and pass background checks. Mitchell said after further discussion with the Iowa DNR, a depredation tag is not required by the hunters.

Roger Sutton, a Charles City attorney and resident of Sunset Place, spoke to the council about his concerns about the deer kill. He said the families of deer frequently pass by his home and he would prefer to not have the animals killed.

“This course has been active since 1919 without a single deer hunt,” said Sutton. “It is it really necessary if it wasn’t for 100 years?”

Sutton said he has talked to several golfers who frequent Wildwood and they have not voiced any complaints about the course being damaged or encountering problems with the deer.

“We just don’t need to slaughter animals without taking a real look at it and what they mean to people. Not everybody hates them. Not everybody likes them. But do we have to kill them to solve this problem?” asked Sutton. “I think there are alternative methods.”

City Administrator Steve Diers said a local archery club would be willing to test the archer’s proficiency should they be selected to participate in the hunt. The group is set up in the basement of Charles City’s VFW. Selected hunters will be required to complete an aptitude test conducted by a third party.

Applications may be picked up at the Charles City Police Department beginning Sept. 25. All applications must be submitted prior to Oct. 15.

Also at the regular council meeting Monday evening, a development agreement between the city and the Charles City Area Development Corp. regarding the Avenue of the Saints Development Park was approved.

The agreement would have Charles City sell general obligation bonds to purchase 75 acres of real estate at a cost of $2.156 million. The bonds would be repaid with tax increment dollars generated from the South Grand Urban Renewal TIF District, where the land is located.

The city would grant the property over to the CCADC to market and hopefully sell the state-certified site to an industry to locate there. Once the property was sold, that money would also be used to repay the city bonds.

Language in the agreement was changed to specify that no permission is needed from the city for the ADC to sell the property unless the sale price per acre went below $30,000. The city’s purchase price is $28,500 per acre.

Key points in the agreement that were adjusted are the city states the site must have state certification by Nov. 1, 2019, and the ADC will use the city grant money to acquire the property by March 1, 2020. The site certification deadline can be extended as mutually agreed upon by both parties.

The council approved transfer of city property to the Charles City Community School district. “Outlot C,” which is adjacent to the school and behind the Allied Subdivision, is needed for part of the plan for the new athletic sports complex. Comet Drive needs to be modified to make room for the new baseball diamond. School engineers have determined that a 100 by 200 foot area is enough room to make those changes to the street. The city plans to sell the property to the school district for $1, plus legal fees.

After Simply Essentials closed last month the company is defaulting on a state High Quality Jobs program. The council voted to terminate the contract between the city, the chicken processor and the Iowa Economic Development Authority that provided tax exemptions.

The city portion of the agreement is a seven-year, 87 percent tax exemption which amounted to almost $42,000 over that time frame. The total incentive package from the state, including the city’s share, was $1.8 million in tax credits, rebates and on-the-job training benefits.

The council approved the first readings of five separate ordinances that would rezone property within the city limits. Along with those ordinances, five adjoining resolutions were given the go-ahead by the council to set public hearings for the ordinances that will take place Monday, Oct. 7.

The properties or areas involved are:

– The 400 block of North Grand (from Fourth Avenue to Fifth Avenue) is being asked to be rezoned from B-1 (business district) to R-2 (general residence district).

– A small area at the west end of Court St., as well as the 1100 block and south half of the 1200 block of Court St., would be rezoned from R-1 (single family residence) to R-2 upon council approval.

– The Avenue of the Saints Development Park would be rezoned from B-4 (highway service district) and U-A (urban agricultural district) to M-2 (general manufacturing district).

– AgVantage, located at 2131 Old Highway Road, has submitted a rezoning petition to rezone its property from B-4 and U-A to M-1 (light manufacturing district) to allow for future construction.

– Ordinance 1138 would amend Section XVIII of the Zoning Ordinance by adding alcoholic beverage processing and bottling as special use in the M-1 district.