The Urban Loop development area in Urbandale is about to lose an eyesore and, maybe, the colorful character who ran a pallet business from the raggedy structure.

Chipp Manders is a man who has been on the minds of Urbandale officials and landowners with development plans for what he considered a little piece of paradise along Meredith Drive and railroad tracks that fall under the auspices of Iowa Interstate Railroad Ltd.

Manders leased a metal building from the railroad along those tracks beginning in the mid-1980s, but by most accounts the lease expired in the early 1990s. He also owns a half-acre strip of land that runs north of the metal structure where he operated a business called Pallet Recyclers of Iowa.

The Urbandale City Council decided recently that it was worth the $27,490 it will cost to pay a contractor to demolish the structure and the pallets that fill it nearly to the rafters. Forget, maybe, a stormwater fee of less than $500 that City Manager A.J. Johnson said Manders will not pay.

His failure to pay the fee triggered the most recent efforts by the city and Iowa Interstate to persuade Manders to leave.

Johnson said the city has tried to negotiate a purchase price for the property, but it can’t seem to meet Manders on his terms. In fact, just talking to Manders has been problematic, Johnson said.

Manders is no stranger to unpaid bills. In June 2017, property taxes totaling $715 on the Urbandale property were paid by a bidder during the Polk County sale of properties with delinquent taxes. According to Dallas County records, Manders has not paid the September property tax bill on a residence in rural Madrid. 

We don’t know what Manders thinks about the decision to demolish the building, but if history and an interview 10 years ago with the Business Record are any indication, he is a combination of bemused, miffed and indifferent.

To his way of thinking 10 years ago, the city with its big development ambitions encroached on his business and a way of life he enjoyed. Let the bureaucrats figure out how to deal with him. Obviously, they have.

Back in the mid-1980s, Manders said, he had railroad tracks at his back and cornfields at his feet. It was a place where a man could build a bonfire and enjoy a cold beer at the end of a long day.

And Urbandale did try to accommodate the man and his property. When Meredith Drive was expanded to four lanes several years ago, planners put a southerly jog in it to avoid Manders' land.

These days the city is anticipating the construction of an interchange at Interstate 35-80 and Iowa Highway 141 that will complement a new interchange at 100th Street and interstate, both of which will spur development.

No doubt, Manders has known for years that his days along the tracks were numbered. "I'm an eyesore,” he told the Business Record in 2008. Read more of the story at