Despite objections from a number of people at Monday’s board of aldermen meeting, Union aldermen voted to create a community improvement district (CID) to help fund a flood berm at Dickey Bub Farm & Home.
The district was approved with six votes of support. Ward 2 Aldermen Bob Marquart and Bill Isgriggs both abstained from the vote.
The approval creates the Dickey Bub Community Improvement District, appoints the initial board of directors, designates the area near the intersection Highway 50 and highway 47 south as blighted and initiates a cooperative agreement been the city and the businesses in the district.
The CID covers the entirety of Dickey Bub and the vacant former Dollar General on the property. Both are owned by Steve Dickey.
Under the CID, a sales tax would be levied at the businesses in the district. Revenue generated by that tax would fund the berm project.
City Administrator Russell Rost said the project would cost an estimated $639,000.
The city will maintain the berm. The CID would pay for a mower needed to handle the slope of the berm.
The tax will be collected starting Jan. 1, 2020.
Reason for Berm
The berm will act as a levy in an attempt to prevent Dickey Bub from flooding. Twice in recent years Dickey Bub has had issues with flooding from the nearby Bourbeuse River.
Steve Dickey said the 2015-16 flood alone cost his business $1.5 million in inventory and $900,000 in sales. He said more than 13,000 manpower hours were needed to get back up and running.
In order to prevent future flooding, Dickey Bub representatives proposed building a berm between its building and the river.
The berm will be built in the flood fringe, and not the flood plain. Because of that distinction, the berm does not need a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
The berm will run just south of Dickey Bub, around the parking lot and then along the Jack in the Box site.
Rost said Dickey Bub has all the required permits to build the berm.
The berm would protect Dickey Bub from all but record flooding, Rost said. Only a repeat, or worse, of the historic 2015-16 flood would overtop the berm, he said.
The berm will force a reorganization of the soccer fields. Rost said issues with the Union Soccer Association are still being addressed, but should be handled. The area will have the same number of fields as before, but just in a different layout.
Construction is expected to start soon and the plan is to be finished before the fall soccer season.
Numerous advocates spoke out about the CID.
While expressing support for Steve Dickey, all said they didn’t want to see anything more built in the flood zone.
Frank Freise with the Bourbeuse River Clean Stream said he didn’t want to see Dickey Bub leave town, but he’s worried about the impact of the berm.
He said based on the way the river has been flooding in recent years, the site is likely to flood again with or without the berm. He said he would like to see the city help Dickey Bub move to a new location in Union.
Other speakers echoed those comments and pushed for Dickey Bub to relocate.
The most common issue raised was about the impact of the berm. Freise and others said they are concerned about the impact of the berm on property both up and downstream from the store.
Engineers for Steve Dickey could not say where the water would go, but said the impact should be minimal and less than a foot.
Alderman Paul Arand said he favors the CID because Jack in the Box and QuikTrip were already elevated and worked with the city. He said he didn’t think it was fair to say no to Steve Dickey.
Arand said if it was a new building, he would have concerns, but the city should work with Dickey to protect what he has.
Alderman Bob Schmuke said he understood the concerns of the people, but also wondered why everyone waited until the last minute. He said the plans have been discussed since 2016 and have been reported on many times.
Schmuke said he supports the CID.
Marquart and Isgriggs both abstained, but did not offer a reason why.
Board of Trustees
A board of trustees for the CID will be made up of five people, but the city has a controlling interest.
Three of the five seats would be allotted to the city of Union’s administrator, finance officer and engineer. The other two positions are mayoral appointments.
Rost said the city needs to have a majority in place in the event a major repair is needed. That way he said an amendment can be made to change the CID.
The first board includes Carrie Dickey, four-year term; John Rosenbaum, four-year term; and the three city officials on two-year terms.