The Marion County Board of Supervisors approved an urban renewal plan for Lely at their regular meeting on Sept. 24. The urban renewal plan is a joint city/county agreement with the city of Pella.

Lely, which currently has a branch located in Pella, has selected the city as the home for its new North American Headquarters. The proposed location is near exit 44 on Highway 163, near the Marion and Mahaska County line and would feature a 65-acre industrial development site.

The proposed project will cost $16 million in total, and will require $1.5 million in public investment. Public funding would be used to expand off-site infrastructure, such as the city of Pella’s water and sanitary sewer systems, to the site, which is located in an unincorporated area.

Mike Nardini, Pella City Administrator, was present at the meeting to answer questions and further explain the proposed project. He said, “Without the urban renewal plan, the development will not occur. So this is the first step in the process.”

According to Nardini, the approved urban renewal plan does not obligate Marion County to additional areas of the project. The plan gives the City of Pella permission to establish an urban renewal area in the county and to collect an incremental values in taxes. Ultimately, it helps to accommodate expansion in Marion County.

This was the second discussion the Board of Supervisors held in regards to the joint city/county urban renewal plan. Nardini had previously spoken to the board about the proposed plan at their regular meeting held on Sept. 10. No action was taken at the time.

At the previous meeting, Nardini said Lely hopes to be in their new headquarters by 2021. The Pella City Council is set to adopt the urban renewal plan on Oct. 1, but first needed approval from the county.

The board also approved a funding request from the Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HIRTA) in the amount of $32,175.

HIRTA is replacing one bus and one van that are housed in Knoxville and serve the entirety of Marion County. They are receiving federal funds to cover 85 percent of one vehicle and 80 percent of the other. The remaining costs were requested to be covered by a local match, totaling $32,175.

The state requires that public transportation is provided in each county. HIRTA serves seven counties in the area.

Emma Skahill can be reached at or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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