Development Services

Cargill Railyard

Site Map

  1. Cargill Location Map

    Related Documents

Key Project Milestones 

  • September 16, 2019 // Cargill submitted an application for a rezoning and a future land use map amendment
  • October 16, 2019 // 5pm - 6pm // Cedar Valley Park // Neighborhood meeting (scheduled by Cargill) 
  • November 5, 2019 // City Council sets public hearing date for November 19
  • November 7, 2019 // 3:00 pm // City Hall // Public Hearing, City Planning Commission 
  • November 19, 2019 // 4:00 pm // City Hall // City Council Public Hearing
  • December 3, 2019 // 12:00 pm // City Hall // 2nd and possible 3rd Ordinance Reading
  • December 17, 2019 // 4:00 pm // City Hall // Possible 3rd Ordinance Reading
    Please note: the 2nd and 3rd readings could be combined at the December 3 meeting. Otherwise, the 3rd reading would stay on the December 17 agenda.



Related Links
Cargilll Incorporated Web Page - Railyard Project Information

Frequently Asked Questions
Updated January 16, 2020

Why is the City undertaking site cleanup at the Cargill Corn Processing facility?
The cleanup efforts in this area are related to the former meat packing plant and related support industries from more than 100 years ago, and is not related to Cargill operations. The cleanup is needed as part of the Flood Control System in advance of the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) flood wall construction, which will expedite their work. It is also a requirement of USACE to have contamination cleaned prior to their going out to bid for a project. You can view a map of the site HERE

How is Cargill proposing to offset pollinator impacts?

Cargill has agreed to plant the equivalent area of pollinator plants nearby (approximately 28 acres), to compensate for what is lost at the Stewart Road property. That land would then be donated and legally restricted to conserve the new pollinator. Specific details of this will be included in the Development Agreement for the transfer of the Stewart Road property, still under negotiation.

How will Cargill ensure that Prairie Park Fishery is protected?
There are a number ways in which Cargill will protect the fishery:

  1. Visually – The City’s site plan approval (to come after the rezoning) will include the requirement for the applicant to both preserve existing trees and plant additional trees between the existing railroad and the new railyard. The intent of this landscaping will be to visually mask the railcars from being viewable from the fishery.
  2. Environmentally – A condition of the City’s site plan approval is to ensure that no DOT-classed hazardous materials are stored onsite. The railcars stored onsite will be empty.
  3. Stormwater Runoff
    - Non-creosote railroad ties will be installed. They will be concrete or steel.
    - The entire plan of improvements is subject to the City’s stormwater quantity and quality standards. This will likely mean that a detention basin and one or more stormwater quality features will need to be installed with the development.

What are the impacts of building in the 500-year floodplain? 
Cedar Rapids has strict restrictions in place for any new development (including rock fill) that lies in the 100-year floodplain (or 1% chance flood) per FEMA guidelines. This is to ensure that property and human life is protected. There are no current restrictions on development in the 500-year floodplain. Cedar Rapids has many homes and businesses in the 500-year floodplain, which carries a lower likelihood of flooding than in the 100-year floodplain.

How many jobs does Cargill offer?
Cargill has approximately 475 employees (including contract employees) in Cedar Rapids.

How many sites did Cargill consider?
Cargill explored a total of five locations for this railyard. Two of the properties were not feasible due to challenges posed by insufficient space, changes in elevation, topography layout and entrance/ exit safety issues. One location did not meet Union Pacific railroad property access guidelines. Two locations were more feasible, both of which came before the City, in the form of the “farm property” and the Stewart Road property.

Archive FAQ's

1. What’s the history on this project?
Cargill has considered multiple sites for a railyard to serve their Cedar Rapids plant. Below is a brief summary of the two sites which came before the City.

In 2018, the City issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to sell the land commonly referred to as the “Stewart Road Property” on the south side of the Rompot neighborhood. Cargill was the only respondent to the RFP and City Council voted to move forward with negotiations for the City to sell the property to Cargill.

Cargill then looked seriously at another privately owned site, commonly referred to as the “Farm property” bounded by Otis Road SE and Prairie Park Fishery Drive SE. Cargill applied for an Essential Services designation for the Farm property, which was heard by the City’s Planning Commission (with a recommendation for approval), followed by the City Council. City Council’s resolution for an Essential Services designation died for a lack of a motion, after a public hearing. City Council’s decision to allow staff to negotiate a deal on the Stewart Road Property still stands.

2. What happened to the Essential Services designation application?
City Council recently held a public hearing for an “Essential Services designation” (Case #: PSDP-028113-2018) for a railyard to be installed at the property bounded by Otis Road SE and Prairie Park Fishery Drive SE (the “Farm Property”). The resolution before the Council, was not motioned nor seconded, and therefore the Essential Services designation didn't pass.

3. Which site is Cargill considering now?
Cargill has stated that they are interested in moving back to the Stewart Road property, on the south side of the Rompot neighborhood. An application (Case #s: RZNE-029592-2019 and FLUMA-029594-2019) was received by Cargill (the applicant) on September 16, 2019. Documentation submitted by Cargill can be found under "Recently Submitted Documents" above. 

4. Is an Essential Service Designation needed for the Stewart Road Property?
As a rezoning and future land use map amendment (FLUMA) is now being pursued for the Stewart Road property, an additional essential service designation would not be necessary.

5. Will the proposed site (Stewart Road Property) be rezoned under the current zoning ordinance
or the previous one?
The previous Essential Services designation application was reviewed under the old zoning code. This new application will be reviewed under the City’s new zoning ordinance, which was adopted in 2018, effective January 1, 2019.

6. What are the steps for a rezoning and future land use map amendment (FLUMA) at the Stewart
Road Property?
Now that an application has been received, the following steps will follow:

  • i. A review by City staff, requesting additional information where applicable;
  • ii. A public hearing by the City’s Planning Commission. The CPC will will recommend approval, or deny the application.
  • iii. A public hearing by the City Council;
  • iv. Three (3) readings (votes) by the City Council, potentially on 3 separate occasions (although the 2nd and 3rd votes can be combined). The City Council will approve or deny the application.

City zoning processes are regulated by Iowa Code. They are based on these principles:

  • i. A landowner has the right to request a change in land use. This request is acted upon by the City Planning Commission and City Council.
  • ii. Members of the public have the right to support or object to the proposed changes and be heard in a public forum.
  • iii. City Planning Commission and City Council are to give full consideration of the request weighing the balance of needs of both the public and the applicant.
  • iv. City staff review a landowner’s application and supporting documents, such as plans and reports. If the application is determined to be complete, it may proceed to City Planning Commission and City Council.

7. What influence does the City have on where Cargill sites their railyard?
The City’s Zoning and Future Land Use maps can help a private developer determine potential sites for a specific use. The City Planning Commission and City Council review and then approve or deny a proposed rezoning and future land use map amendment (FLUMA). Developers are ultimately responsible for initiating and submitting land development proposals for consideration. City staff does not provide formal opinions of
preference for specific sites or uses.

8. What is Development Services (city staff’s) role in the next steps?
City Staff’s role is twofold:

  • i. Development Services staff will facilitate a rezoning and future land use map amendment (FLUMA) process, presenting pertinent information at the City Planning Commission and City Council, and answering technical questions about the rezoning.
  • ii. As the subject property is currently City owned, Community Development staff will work with the applicant on negotiating the terms of a development agreement, as directed by City Council in August 2018, to facilitate the transfer of ownership.

9. What zone is the property currently?
The entire Stewart Road property is currently zoned S-RLL – Suburban Residential Large Lot. More detail on what this allows can be found in the City’s Zoning Ordinance.

10. What zone is being proposed?
A southern portion of the Stewart Road property is being considered for rezoning to I-GI– General Industrial. More detail on what this allows can be found in the City’s Zoning Ordinance. The remainder of the property will remain as is.

11. Who currently owns the site?
The City currently owns the Stewart Road site and has done since 1997. In 2018, the City issued a request for proposals (RFP). Cargill was the only respondent to the RFP and City Council voted to move forward with negotiations for the City to sell the property to Cargill. City Council’s decision to allow staff to negotiate a deal on the Stewart Road Property still stands.

12. What outreach will Cargill be required to do with the adjacent neighborhood?
We have requested that Cargill conduct a neighborhood meeting prior to any consideration by the City Planning Commission or City Council. Cargill is responsible for informing the neighborhood of their meeting. We will also post the details once we receive them. City Staff will also likely attend to answer questions about the review and approval process.

13. Can I provide input on this rezoning and future land use map amendment (FLUMA)?
You are welcome to provide input and ask questions at any time. This can be done at the public hearings, or by letter or emails prior to the public hearings. All correspondence to the City becomes public record and will be reviewed by staff, City Planning Commission and City Council.

Emails can be sent to

14. Can the rezoning and future land use map amendment (FLUMA) action be delayed?
The action can be delayed if the applicant requests it or if the City Council requires more information. Staff would not delay an application unless it was found to be incomplete. 

15. Is the Stewart Road property precluded from being used for a Railyard by any other restrictions? 
No – subject to the rezoning and future land use map amendment (FLUMA). However, in 2017, the City received grant monies from a State of Iowa REAP grant to plant prairie at the Stewart Road property. The City can request to repay the grant monies or to replant an equivalent quantity of prairie in another location to replace what might be disturbed with development of Cargill’s railyard. Cargill will reimburse the City for this relocation project. The area is not deed restricted for any other purpose.

16. Will Cargill be subject to the same conditions made by the City Planning Commission for the
previous site?
The City intends to apply the same or very similar conditions to the new site.

17. What is Cargill doing to mitigate the impact of their proposed railyard?
Cargill is proposing to mitigate for the following concerns, expressed in various ways by the neighborhood:

  • Noise
  • Air Quality
  • Visual Impacts
  • Stormwater Quality
  • Lighting
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Hours of Operation
  • Etc.

More details on how these issues will be mitigated can be found in the technical documents submitted as part of the rezoning and future land use map amendment (FLUMA) application, to be provided on this web page once those documents are received.

18. Will siting the railyard at the Stewart Road property mean that the Rompot neighborhood is
protected from flooding?
Likely not. Although Cargill is proposing a large berm between the railyard and the neighborhood, it will not be “tied in” at either end, meaning that floodwaters from the Cedar River could still flow around both ends of the berm into the neighborhood.

19. How do I keep up to date with new information about the project?

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