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WATERLOO | The city is pushing to downzone the contaminated Chamberlain Manufacturing site to enhance clean-up efforts.

Members of the Waterloo Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission voted 7-0 Tuesday to endorse rezoning the 23-acre site at East Fourth and Esther streets from heavy industrial to residential use.

The city acquired the longtime manufacturing site in 2005, demolished the buildings and has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Chamberlain's parent company to clean up ground water contamination there.

Commissioner Carole Gustafson wanted assurances "nobody is going to be detrimentally affected by this site" should homes for families and children be built on contaminated ground.

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But Chris Western, a planner, said the zoning change will ensure the EPA requires the land to be cleaned to residential standards versus the current industrial standards.

The city still owns the land and controls development, he said. The city would be hard-pressed to find a home builder interested in the site in its present state.

"Located in the heart of the built-up area of the community, the site has been a blight upon the landscape of this neighborhood for many years and the city wants to keep moving forward towards its redevelopment," Western said.

The zoning change goes to the City Council for final approval in the coming weeks.

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