May 10, 2011
Minutes of Zoning Commission Meeting held on May 10, 2011, regarding a request by the Carville Cabins Homeowners’ Association to rezone the remainder of a parcel from AG to R-1 and request for approval of Preliminary Subdivision Plat for 30 lots specifically located at 2531 Windfall Avenue in the Northeast Quarter of Sections 1 and 2, Township 94 North, Range 15 West, Riverton Township, Floyd County, Iowa.
Commission members present were Thomas Schwab, Duane Koch, Dean Tjaden and Susan Nelson. Also present were Jeff Sherman-Administrator and Misty Day, Assistant. Roll call of Commission members was taken and all four (4) members were present, as Michael Goddard had resigned from the Commission and a replacement had not yet been found. Attorney Christopher O’Donohoe and Tammy Robinson were also present on behalf of the Carville Cabin Homeowners’ Association.
Commission Member Susan Nelson inquired as to whether Mr. O’Donohoe had seen the staff report prepared by Assistant Day. It was determined that he had seen it. Mr. O’Donohoe started off by explaining that the parcel consists of existing recreational cabins, with approximately 25 cabins on the Southern end that have been on the property since the 1950s. Mr. O’Donohoe stated that the Association had already obtained a variance to the minimum lot size requirement to accommodate the existing cabins. The cabins were all put up on rented ground and about 10 years ago people started putting a lot of money in improvements into the cabins. When the land came up for sale, the cabin owners formed a Homeowners’ Association and purchased the parcel with the cabins, as well as a portion of the islands in the center of the river. Mr. O’Donohoe explained that the islands are not habitable and are not included in this request, as they may be deeded to some sort of conservation in the future. Discussion was had regarding which islands and a map was provided to the Commission showing the portion that the Homeowners’ Association owned. Mr. O’Donohoe went on to state that the 4 cabins on the North end are the newest of the cabins which had all been built since 2000, and that the rest of the cabins are much older. Chair Schwab inquired whether some of these cabins dated back to the 1940s and Mr. O’Donohoe stated that some of the cabins were actually there before that but that a bulk of the lots were occupied by 1950. Mrs. Robinson added that the cabins were very rustic at first but now they are getting to be homes for some people. She also added that people did not really want to put money into the cabins until they owned the land, in addition to not being able to obtain financing unless you own the land. Commission Member Nelson referenced a section of the staff report that talked about a recommendation from the County Engineer. Assistant Day provided a copy of the recommendation to the Commission as well as to Mr. O’Donohoe. It was the County Engineer’s recommendation that the Preliminary Plat be approved.
Commission Member Nelson then referenced a section of the staff report that mentioned the Sanitarian’s recommendation that holding tanks are perfectly acceptable for recreational cabins, however, permanent residences would need to upgrade to a leach field system. It was Commission Member Nelson’s impression that a common sewer would be more appropriate then individual holding tanks due to the size of the lots as most of the lots did not look big enough for a leach field. Mr. O’Donohoe stated that most people will not be putting a permanent residence on the lots due to the lot size and that these lots are clearly designed for recreational use. Discussion was had concerning what currently existed for wastewater treatment. Mr. O’Donohoe believed that most of the systems did drain into the river up until about 10 years ago when many of them upgraded to a proper holding tank. Administrator Sherman provided the Commission with a list of systems per his records as well as from a brief inspection of the property. Commission Member Nelson inquired about the ones marked with a question mark. Administrator Sherman stated that those were the ones that would need to be inspected or replaced when this process was complete, as he was not sure what they had. Chair Schwab stated that it was his understanding that the farmland was not owned by the Association and pointed out that the parcel owned by the Association would not be big enough to accommodate a common sewer without an easement from the owner of the farmland. Mr. O’Donohoe added that it was his understanding that once the cabins were transferred to the cabin owners, they would be subject to an inspection or update of the system prior to the Deed being recorded. Commission Member Nelson inquired as to how the cabins did during the 2008 flood. Mr. O’Donohoe stated that only one cabin had flooding, all the rest of the cabins are a lot higher. Discussion returned to the holding tanks. Administrator Sherman added that there could potentially be issues with a common sewer not running as efficiently due to the cabins only being occupied during the summer months and the sewer having little to no use during the winter months. Commission Member Nelson inquired about a meeting the prior evening. Administrator Sherman stated that there was a meeting with the Board of Health to obtain setback variances for the wells and septic systems. Specifically the Board of Health approved variances for: Lot 6 and 7 which share a septic system with a well that is 25’ from the tank; Lot 11 which has a well 44’ from the septic system; Lot 12 which is still questionable because there was no obvious evidence of a septic system and in addition there is a well that is not being used so any issues could be taken care of by plugging the well; and Lot 15. Chair Schwab inquired whether there were funds available for closing wells and it was determined there was $200 available per well, which should be more then enough to cover the expense of plugging this particular well. Administrator Sherman added that any new wells and septic systems that can not meet the required setbacks will also have to get an individual variance from the Board of Health.
Chair Schwab inquired whether the City of Nashua had been contacted and Assistant Day stated that they had not as this proposed subdivision is not within 2 miles of Nashua. Chair Schwab inquired whether the Homeowner’s Association would maintain the road since it was not a county road and it was determined that it would. Mrs. Robinson added that people are really starting to fix up the property and are going through the correct channels to do so when in the past people did whatever they wanted to with or without a permit. She also added that the Association will not allow any new mobile homes on the property, but all existing mobile homes are grandfathered.
There were no oral or written objections received during the hearing. Assistant Day stated that Roger Sutton had contacted her on Monday inquiring as to what the hearing entailed. Mr. Sutton expressed no objections or support for the applications, but rather inquired about the septic tank versus leach field issue and whether the leach field systems encroached onto his property and it was determined that they were within the lot lines of the Homeowners’ Association.
A motion to approve the request to rezone the remainder of the parcel from AG to R-1 and request for approval of Preliminary Subdivision Plat for 30 lots as platted by Herold-Reicks Surveying on January 6, 2011, was made by Dean Tjaden and seconded by Susan Nelson. Roll call vote was taken and the motion was unanimously approved.
Chair Schwab advised the applicants of the Board of Supervisors hearing that will begin at 9:30 a.m. following this hearing. Assistant Day gave Mr. O’Donohoe a list of documents that would need to accompany the Request for Approval of Final Plat.
The hearing was adjourned while Chair Schwab and Administrator Sherman attended the Board of Supervisors hearing. Upon returning from the hearing, discussion was had concerning the proposed Rules of Procedure. Administrator Jeff Sherman and Commission Member Susan Nelson did not return from the Board of Supervisors’ meeting. Discussion was had regarding amendment of agendas. Assistant Day stated that she talked with County Attorney Norman Klemesrud as well as sought the opinion of other county zoning officials. So long as the agenda is not being amended with action items, it is perfectly acceptable to amend the agenda during the hearing with discussion items. Assistant Day stated that she completely agreed with this assessment, but that she was wondering more about whether she was properly publishing the agenda items. Assistant Day learned that so long as the Agenda is posted on the door or bulletin board outside their office at least 24 hours prior to the meeting, this would constitute proper notice. Additionally, Assistant Day pointed out that it is very rare that the Commission has action items other then zoning and subdivision requests. Commission Member Duane Koch suggested that the wording ‘non action items’ be added to Section VII under Other Business. Assistant Day thought this language could also be added to Section II under Approval of Agenda. No further discussion was had concerning the Rules of Procedure and the Commission expressed their desire to take action on these Rules at the next meeting.
A motion to add the language ‘non action items’ to Sections II and VII of the Rules of Procedure with one (1) final comment period being allowed by email with final action being taken at the next meeting was made by Duane Koch and was seconded by Dean Tjaden. Roll call vote was taken and the motion was unanimously approved.
Motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Duane Koch and seconded by Dean Tjaden.
Jeff D. Sherman