By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A cleanup may be coming for the old Joplin Stockyards land on Newman Road, west of Range Line Road, to get it ready for pursuit of a development deal.
Dustin Eldridge, a representative of the Joplin Regional Stockyards, now located off Interstate 44 near Sarcoxie, asked the Joplin City Council on Monday night to waive a requirement of the city’s outdoor fire ordinance that regulates pit burning. He said the owners want to clear the land for the possibility of future development.
The former stockyards location has been vacant since 1995, when the move was made to the I-44 location. The operation has been in the Joplin area for more than 70 years.
Eldridge, contacted Friday by the Globe, had said the owners of the property in Joplin wanted to burn some brush to clean up the land, but that no deal was in the works. On Monday night, he told the council that the intent in trying to clear the brush is to try to prepare the land for development.
The council asked Fire Chief Mitch Randles his view of the burn request.
Randles told the council that with Meek’s The Builder’s Choice lumberyard and Roper Honda nearby, he could not recommend approving a waiver that would allow pit burning at the location. He said neighboring property has been damaged in the past by open pit fires that were allowed for a commercial clearing operation.
Before the council voted on the request, Councilman Mike Woolston, a real estate agent, noted that he would abstain from the vote and that he could have a potential future financial interest in the property. After the meeting, Woolston said he does not know of a plan to redevelop the property yet.
The other eight council members voted against allowing the burn.
HEARTLAND PET FOOD
Council members authorized agreements with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Joplin Industrial Development Corp. that would support a request to the Federal Highway Administration for an I-44 interchange to be placed at County Road 190 for the new Heartland Pet Food plant construction. It is to be located in the Crossroads Center Business and Distribution Park.
The plant will manufacture Blue Buffalo brand dog food.
Rob O’Brian, president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, told the council that construction of the plant is on schedule for opening a year from now. He said providing the interchange was one of the stipulations made to attract the plant. The company expects to employ at least 150 people at annual wages of $33,000 to $36,000. O’Brian said the company had recently acquired some new business that may increase employment at the plant to 170.
David Hertzberg, the city’s public works director, told the council that the construction of the interchange and the economic development agreement to land the business represent an $11 million investment in Joplin by MoDOT.
Additionally, the council authorized a contract with Cobble Construction for $35,455 to build a sewer extension for the pet food plant.
The council also:
• Authorized a contract with Tri-State Engineering for $195,857 to provide engineering and design services for a transit project on East 20th Street. The project entails building sidewalks, trolley stops and a bike path between Range Line Road and Murphy Boulevard. Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg asked when construction would take place. He was told it would start in August or September and be complete in November.
• Approved contracts to lease space in the city’s general airport terminal to Alpha Air and the Joplin squadron of the Civil Air Patrol. Alpha Air will pay about $18,000 a year for using a portion of the main floor. The Civil Air Patrol unit will use the basement without charge.
• Approved the purchase of 17 easements or temporary easements of property on Schifferdecker Avenue, 26th Street and Maiden Lane for widening projects on those streets.
AFTER ITS REGULAR SESSION, the City Council held a closed meeting. The agenda listed the reason for the closed session as pertaining to legal action, causes of action or litigation.