March 15, 2011
Minutes of Board of Adjusters’ Hearing for a variance request for minimum lot size by Carville Cabins Homeowners’ Association to plat out thirty (30) lots all of varying size and shape on its property located at 2531 Windfall Avenue in the NE¼ of Section 2, Township 94 North, Range 15 West of the 5th P.M., Riverton Township, Floyd County, Iowa.
Board members present were John Gohr, Bill Fluhrer, Dennis Staudt and Ann Sullivan. Also present were Jeff Sherman, Zoning Administrator. Roll call of Board members was taken and four (4) of the (5) members were present with Ron Muff being absent. Roger Hansen and Attorney Kit O’Donohoe were present on behalf of Carville Cabins Homeowners’ Association and Jeremy Deutsch, Eldon Parker, and William Wadey were also present.
Kit O’Donohoe began the presentation by explaining to the Board that Carville Cabins is a little recreational development along the Cedar River just North of Nashua. The original cabins were built before World War II and the cabins on the North end are newer cabins. The plat being presented shows where the owner originally agreed the lot lines would be with his first tenants. These cabins were all built on rented property and the cabin owners had 35 year leases with the owner. A lot of the leases have been renewed and a number of leases have been lost. Larry & Jackie Bean owned this property for approximately 20 years and a lot of the tenants have upgraded and improved the cabins and have fairly substantial investments in them. O’Donohoe stated that the Beans did sell all of the surrounding farmland to other parties, leaving a small parcel for the cabins, and even though the lots do not comply with the County ordinances, it is a fairly typical platting for waterfront cabins on a lake or river. The smallest river frontage platted is approximately 60’. O’Donohoe also stated that there is an easement coming into the parcel from the curved road and the access road is going to go right along the parcel boundary. Due to the size of the parcel, the Homeowners’ Association needs a lot size variance, a front yard variance, and a variance for the side yard setbacks. O’Donohoe stated that the lots have substantial backyards which is all water and that a lot of these cabins are right on the riverbank. The Engineer required the Association to plat to the middle of the river. Roger Hansen added that generally most of the cabins are located up above the water and every cabin but one is safe from flooding. Administrator Sherman added that this one cabin did have flooding during the 2008 flooding and that sandbags were used around the structure. Member Gohr inquired weather the floodplain vs floodway had been addressed. Administrator Sherman stated that it was his understanding that the original cabins were built prior to the floodplain ordinance and are grandfathered in. Anything new would have to be built above that flood elevation and Sherman stated that we have no flood elevations that would have to be determined here. Roger Hansen stated that they are going to determine the elevation for his cabin just for informational purposes. Sherman added that the cabin that had flooding in 2008 was built 2’ above the flood elevation and met floodplain building requirements at that time.
Discussion was had concerning Sherman and Assistant Day’s site evaluation of the property, specifically questions regarding where buildings belong in relation to the property lines. Proposed Lot #30 was discussed and it was determined that the owner of Lot #30 also owns Lot #29 and planned to build a new cabin once this process had been taken care of. Lots # 24 & 25 were discussed and it was determined that this lot was ok. Lots #20 & 21 were discussed and it was determined that the well and shed is on Lot 21. Discussion was had concerning the locations of wells and the wells were identified as being on Lots 26, 20, 10, 6 & 4. Board Member Gohr inquired about holding tanks and septic tanks and it was determined that there are only 2 leach fields that were installed according to Code and that the rest are holding tanks, although some of the tank material is unknown. Sherman clarified that it will be a requirement to bring all of the tanks up to Code upon transferring the property to the cabin owners. Discussion was had regarding the holding tank setback distance from a well and it was determined that Code requires a 50’ setback. Sherman stated that the Association may need to get a variance for those setbacks, which will be brought before the Board of Health. Board Member Fluhrer inquired whether there were any permanent residences and it was determined that Lot #1 was a permanent residence with a leach field system and a shared well.
No letters or calls in support of or against this variance request were received by the Zoning Department. Jeremy Deutsch stated that he owns the farmhouse next to the cabins and that his concerns were regarding the septic system issues and that some of the cabins are draining right into the river.
Discussion was had regarding minimum tank size and it was determined that the minimum tank size allowed is a 1250 gal tank. Discussion was had regarding when the septic systems would be required to be updated, it was determined that the tanks would be replaced upon transferring the property to the cabin owners once this process is complete and depending on when that was, Sherman stated that he may give them 30 to 60 days to replace the tank. Sherman clarified that he would inspect each holding tank that was installed and that all the newer holding tanks already have riser lids to the surface. Deutsch discussed concerns regarding water quality with the leach fields and holding tanks being so close to the river. Sherman stated that if the cabin owner did not put in a holding tank, Sherman would require them to put in an alternative system since not all of the lots would be big enough for a leach field system. The alternative systems do an excellent job of treating the wastewater and another option to treat it even further would be to install an ultraviolet light, which he may also require. If someone wants a permanent residence, they are going to have to put in more then just a holding tank.
Board Member Gohr inquired if there have ever been any complaints on the cabins and it was determined that there was one complaint of hauling debris and scattering trash over the road when tearing out one of the older cabins. Board Member Staudt inquired whether every cabin was occupied every summer and it was determined that there are a few vacant cabins but most of them are occupied every summer. It was clarified that the property lines were platted to reflect the assumed property lines and that all the cabin owners agreed to the platted lots. More discussion was had concerning Jeremy Deutsch’s well and it was determined that his well was by the house about 200 yards from the proposed subdivision. Discussion was had concerning setback distances for new buildings and it was determined that the Association is requesting a 20’ front yard setback including the 12’ right-of-way or 20’ from the property line/8’ from the road. Roger Hansen added that many of the cabin owners did not want to put money into the cabins while the cabins sat on property owned by someone else and that the cabin owners could not obtain financing until they owned the land as well as the cabin, so many cabin owners will be putting more money into updating the cabins once this process is complete. Discussion was had regarding side yard setbacks and it was determined that the Association is requesting a 3’ setback for side yard. Discussion was had concerning fire resistant construction. Hansen stated that the Association will continue even after lots are transferred in order to maintain the road, etc. Board Member Gohr expressed concerns with the setback requests and stated he would like to see a requirement for fire resistant construction if the variance is granted. Discussion was had concerning fire truck access to the river in case of a fire. Discussion was had concerning permanent residences and it was the understanding of Jeremy Deutsch from the previous owner that permanent residences could not be built on this parcel. Sherman clarified that a leach field would be required for a permanent residence and these lots will not have enough room for leach fields, which would prevent a permanent residence from being built. Discussion was had concerning existing cabins and it was determined that existing cabins would be grandfathered and that any new structures would have to follow the new setback distances being requested.
A motion to approve the request made by Carville Cabins Homeowners’ Association for a variance from minimum lot size requirements for 30 lots as platted by HRS Surveying on January 6, 2011, and to decrease the front yard setback requirement to 20’ from property line or 8’ from access road and the side yard setback to 3’ upon the condition that any structure that would require a leach field would not qualify for the new front yard and side yard setback as approved herein and that any new structure erected on the parcel and that is located less then 10’ from the property line shall be constructed with 1 hour fire wall construction, on the subject property located at 2531 Windfall Avenue in the NE¼ of Section 2, Township 94 North, Range 15 West of the 5th P.M., Riverton Township, Floyd County, Iowa, was made by Dennis Staudt and was seconded by John Gohr. Roll call vote was taken and the application was unanimously approved.
Motion to close the hearing was made by Bill Fluhrer and seconded by Dennis Staudt.
Jeff D. Sherman