Public engagement in the city of Kalona’s proposed annexation of the Shiloh church property began with a committee meeting on April 17.

About 30 people gathered at Shiloh for a facility walk-through and meeting, where they had chance to ask questions.

City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh clarified some misconceptions early on.

“The city isn’t buying Shiloh,” Schlabaugh said. “Annexation does not mean ownership. We’re not looking to write checks.”

He explained that the city would own any services – such as water, sewer and streets – in any development that went on the property.

Schlabaugh also allayed any concerns that the city is considering annexation of Richmond, an unincorporated community south of the Shiloh property.

There were several Richmond residents at the meeting.

Schlabaugh said that the city has no plans regarding Richmond.

Current discussions between Shiloh and the city involve Shiloh requesting a voluntary annexation of its 200-acre property into the city of Kalona.

Schlabaugh said that the proposal came out of 2016 discussions about connecting the city’s water system with Shiloh’s water system – talks that ultimately went nowhere.

Last month, the city agreed to contract with Shiloh for daily testing on Shiloh’s water and sewer system.

The current proposal would have the city taking ownership of the water and sewer system, as well as other already existing facilities on the property.

Schlabaugh said that the city is already working on a facility plan with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for Shiloh’s water and sewer systems.

“(The DNR) would need to sign off to make it a public system,” he said.

Other facilities included in the discussion are the main building, an amphitheater and recreational facilities. 

“This would give us an asset we would never build in a lifetime,” Schlabaugh said. 

Shiloh would maintain ownership of undeveloped parts of the property with the idea to sell to developers.

“No individual is going to benefit from a big sale,” Shiloh facilities manager Steve Rich, one of Shiloh’s directors, said.

He explained that Shiloh was built with the idea of it being a community.

“We’re looking to donate a portion of the property to the city to see them carry it on,” Rich said. “A good share of people at Shiloh are excited about this opportunity.”

Another Shiloh director, Craig Haworth, noted the “symbiotic nature” of the conversation.

“I see a lot of people benefitting from this,” he said.

To read more, please subscribe or pick up a paper.

James Jennings, News Editor at The News, can be reached at news@kalonanews.com

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