Cindy Iutzi/MVM News Network
The Lee County Economic Development Group, Inc. filed a motion Thursday to intervene in Roquette America's lawsuit against Iowa Gate Way Terminal and the Southeastern Iowa Port Terminal, LLC., a Hendricks Holdings corporation.
The motion is accompanied by a request for oral argument, which requires a hearing date. A hearing date had not been set as of Friday.
According to the motion, the Lee County Economic Development Group claims to have a lot at stake in the dispute over the legality of the purchase of the port terminal facility and property.
“… the LCEDG is, as a practical matter, unable to protect its interest in this property without actively participating in the above entitled action,” the motion says.
Neither Roquette America nor the port terminal have included LCEDG as a player in the legal matter, but the economic development group believes it has interests in common at the Mississippi riverfront with both the corn processing giant and Hendricks Holdings.
“We want to make sure Lee County's best interests are taken care of and we are included in this discussion,” said Mike Holtkamp, chairman of the Lee County Economic Development Group board.
The bone of contention is the purchase of the riverfront land and facilities that formed the former Iowa Gateway Terminal owned by Walter Caldwell.
Caldwell's business and property were purchased in January 2006 by Hendricks Holdings with the assistance of the Lee County Economic Development Group.
Roquette America had signed away its right of first refusal allowing the sale to go forward.
In October 2007, Roquette filed a lawsuit against Iowa Gateway Terminal and Southeastern Iowa Port Terminal seeking to reverse the sale, claiming the purchase was not finalized within the 90- day period the agreement allowed.
If its lawsuit is successful, Roquette wants to buy the port terminal for the price Iowa Gateway Terminal had negotiated with Hendricks Holdings.
However, in the event that Roquette prevails, Lee County Economic Development Group believes that it has the next right of first refusal, even before Roquette.
Monday Lee County Economic Development Group and affiliated groups, Keokuk Economic Development Corporation, Southeast Iowa Regional Economic and Port Authority and the Fort Madison Economic Development Group held a public meeting declaring a united front in supporting the citizens' interests.
The development of a private and public port terminal at the Mississippi riverfront in Keokuk is vital to Lee County, the location of Iowa's first port authority, so that the county can capitalize on its economic development potential.
The port terminal concept is designed to serve as the hub of a river, road, rail and air transportation network that would attract businesses and industries to the area.
Calls for comments to Roquette America, Inc., Gerald Goddard of Burlington, who represents LCEDG, were not returned by press time.
Southeastern Iowa Port Terminal manager Flint Peyton said he could not comment on pending litigation.