Jasper County Highway Project Threatens Family Farm

JASPER COUNTY, Iowa –A Jasper County farmer is fighting for the right to keep his land.  Tuesday the DOT Commission approved a five year plan that includes a re-design on the intersection of highways 330 and 65.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has two plans to make this intersection safer.  One of them calls for taking 50-acres of Larry Cleverley’s land plus three homes on the property and out buildings.

“Not only are they taking these personal assets, the land the house so forth, but they’re also going to take away my living,” says Cleverley.

If acres of his land are taken through eminent domain, Cleverley would be forced to start over.

He’s been farming for 18 years on the same land his grandparents did 86 years ago.

That would include getting re-certified as an organic farmer.

“There is a three year transition period for me to get certified again, I’ll be 63 years old in September, I don’t know if I’m looking at a forced early retirement,” says Cleverley.

The DOT has two plans on the table.  One called the Diamond Interchange which would replace the intersections with entrance and exit ramps. It would cost $14.5 Million dollars.

The J-Turn plan would eliminate left turns. Motorists would be forced to use the J-turn around to reach their destination.  This plan would cost $750,000 and would spare the Cleverley Farm.

Cleverley provides organic produce to several restaurants around the metro.

“There are 60,000 salads people in metro Des Moines are eating off our farm, not to mention our potatoes and our beans, heirloom tomatoes, beats, carrots and radishes, broccoli and cauliflower right on down the line.  We are a huge part of the food community in Des Moines,” says Cleverley.

He hopes the DOT considers the service he’s providing to the community when it picks the plan that could divide his land.

“It`s a long way from over, we`re going to continue to fight for our home and our livelihood.  If we`re gone people are going to miss us,” says Cleverley.

DOT officials will spend the next month deciding which plan to go with.

If the diamond interchange proposal is selected, the DOT would begin talking to land owners in 2016 with construction expected to begin the following year.

If the J-turn proposal is selected construction could begin much sooner.

8 comments

  • BrutallyHonest

    This is absolutely rediculous! I like how Braindeads campaing ads bash Jack Hatch for this kind of “eminent domain” garbage, but yet he is also doing it as well.

  • jade

    The original intersection was just fine. The state is the one that made it dangerous. Stop messing with roads that dont need to be fixed and fix the ones that do

    • speck

      I agree. I never thought there was anything dangerous about this intersection. I’ve been driving through it for many years.

  • hawks4ever

    good luck with stopping the state…..10 years ago, the state, thru ‘domain’ took 10 acres from me for a ‘road improvement thingy’…gave me 1/3 market value….and bull-dozed my crops on that 10 acres….even before the were entitled to start work…..

  • Lynnette Hauser

    Why is this particular intersection is causing so much trouble for drivers? If people who are required to stop actually stop and look both directions twice before proceeding, there should be no reason for accidents. How many other intersections like this one will have to be changed when this is completed? How many accidents occur here compared to other intersections? How much will either of the proposed changes improve safety at this intersection?

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