Minutes of Board of Adjustment’s Hearing held on August 16, 2011.
I. Call to Order. Meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. Board members present were John Gohr, Dennis Staudt, and Bill Fluhrer. Also present were Jeff Sherman, Zoning Administrator, and Misty Day, Assistant Zoning Administrator. Roll call of Board members was taken and three (3) of the four (4) members were present.
II. Approval of Agenda. A motion to approve the agenda as presented was made by John Gohr and seconded by Dennis Staudt, motion was unanimously approved.
III. Approval of Minutes. A motion to approve the minutes from the July 19, 2011, meeting was made by Dennis Staudt and seconded by John Gohr, motion was unanimously approved.
IV. Old Business. No old business.
V. New Business.
A. A conditional use request by Emily Kiewel to have a pottery workshop and retail area on property located at 3010 – 230th Street in the NE¼ of Section 29, Township 95 North, Range 15 West of the 5th P.M., St. Charles Township. Applicant Emily and Kurt Kiewel were present for the hearing along with Realtors Lori, Dean & Larry Stewart; Seller/Executor Linda Groesbeck; Director of CC Arts Center Nicole Fullard; Artist Art Strong; CC Area Development Director Tim Fox; and adjacent property owners Lonnie & Brenda West; Jackie & Graham Cunninghame; and Polly and Bob Chuick. Applicant Emily Kiewel began the hearing by stating that she is proposing to have a pottery workshop in the existing 24’ x 24’ Morton building on the subject property, as well as a retail area in the lower level porch of the house with an open house once a year, maybe in the fall. Applicant Kiewel stated that her hours would be Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment only. Realtor Lori Stewart spoke in support of the application and presented a packet to the Board. Ms. Stewart also stated that she represented the seller/executor of the Estate, Linda Groesbeck, as well as the buyer/applicant, Emily Kiewel. Ms. Stewart went over the contents of the packet which included a listing sheet that shows information and details about the property as well as a picture of the home and Morton building located on the property; several pictures of the property from different views showing the privacy of the location and parking areas, as well as an example of Emily’s work and where Emily proposes to display her art within the home; an aerial of the property showing it hidden by trees; a close-up aerial showing the distance of the property line abutting the road to the house being 244.7 feet; the Assessor parcel sheet from the Floyd County Beacon site; a map showing the property boundaries and that the front portion of the property is in forest reserve; Applicant Kiewel’s biography; a letter from Tim Fox with Charles City Area Development regarding home based businesses; and a photo of Applicant Kiewel’s artwork and business card. Ms. Stewart stated that there is an accepted offer between the seller and buyer, Ms. Kiewel does have a letter of commitment from her bank stating that she is able to purchase the property, a supporting appraisal has come through, and the last piece is to get the conditional use permit for this business approved. Art Strong also spoke in support of the business and stated that he is a local potter with a shop in town. Mr. Strong stated that 99% of his pottery income comes from art shows around the state, but that he does like to have his work available for friends and people he knows who ask to take a look at his work and so he does have a display area in his home as well. Mr. Strong stated that there is not a massive amount of traffic and it works pretty well for him to have it available at his home in addition to selling his work at art shows.
An adjacent property owner, Graham Cunninghame, spoke in opposition to the request. Mr. Cunninghame mentioned a letter in opposition that was put together by all of the property owners dated August 3, 2011, which was submitted to the Planning & Zoning office and Mr. Cunninghame inquired whether the Board had seen that letter. It was determined that the letter from the neighbors was included in the packet given to the Board and the Board took a few moments to review same. Mr. Cunninghame stated that when he purchased his property his property taxes went up substantially and when he inquired why he was told that because of the location of the property on a dead end road the value of his property went up thus increasing his taxes; and that the neighbors are all against the business as they are concerned that the business will expand resulting in increased traffic and Mr. Cunninghame wants to know what will happen at that point. Mr. Cunninghame also stated that they all pay taxes and they would prefer to keep this a residential area and if Applicant Kiewel already has a shop in town why wouldn’t she want to keep it in town. An adjacent property owner, Lonnie West, also spoke in opposition of the request by stating that it is very private out there and they want to keep it that way. Mr. West also stated that everyone in their neighborhood gets along great and everyone helps everyone. They do not have anything against Applicant Kiewel, they just want to keep it private and not have a business out there. Adjacent property owner, Bob Chuick, stated he purchased his property and moved from the city to the country because he wanted out of the big city, he wanted quite, and he wanted a property on a dead end gravel road. Mr. Chuick stated that if you put a business out there, it defeats his purpose of moving to Floyd County. Every car that would go to this business will have to go by his house and right now the only strange cars that are ever on that road are people who ended up on the wrong side of the river looking for an address on 230th Street, which is not many.
Executor Linda Groesbeck stated that at least once a year someone on that road has a garage sale where cars are parked on the street and people have to go to the end of the road to turn around, so there is traffic generated by these activities as well. Board Member John Gohr inquired as to how much business and traffic Emily thought her business would generate. Applicant Kiewel stated that it would be very minimal as most of her sales are through juried art shows and like Art Strong commented, sometimes people want to take a look at what she has and she just wants an area to display instead of having it all packed up in boxes like she currently does. Applicant Kiewel stated that it would be maybe a person a week if that. Realtor Lori Stewart added that the garage sales would present more of a threat to the neighborhood as far as anyone off of the Avenue being allowed to come onto the properties whereas Emily’s clientele will be by invitation and appointment only. Board Member Gohr stated that he finds it hard to restrict people on their property and from experience as a City Inspector, people do have certain rights with their property to do things and most codes are written to allow people to use 25% of their property for an in-home business and as he looks at this he understands everyone wants to keep this private but it is hard to restrict someone from opening up a home operated business especially with the small percentage he sees being used here. Board Member Gohr did state that he does question parking and whether there is adequate parking, but otherwise he does not really see any problems with what is being proposed. Mr. Cunnighame added that only 1 person is going to gain and there are 14 people who are against it and he hopes the Board takes that into consideration. Board Member Gohr stated that he sees it as a perceived loss and no one will really know how much traffic the business will generate until it is up and running. Mr. West added that at that point the conditional use permit would already be granted and it could not be taken away. Board Member Gohr agreed. Mr. Chuick added that the applicant says she does not plan to have any employees but if her business takes off, what is the limit on the number of people she can have working there. The Board stated that they do not think they could address that. Kurt Kiewel added that he has seen many pottery operations like this one and even the most successful operations have a yearly kiln opening and are lucky to attract 6 to 8 cars at the most and that a business like this has a very low impact and most of the neighbors probably would not even know the business was there. Realtor Dean Stewart also spoke in support of the application and stated that Floyd County has well over 2,000 home businesses throughout the County but there is not 2,000 store fronts visible; he has known Emily since 2008 and she works about 2 blocks from his office and he has never observed or heard from any other neighbors of having offensive odors, parking or any other issues with her having her wheels and kilns in the garage; Emily has been searching for 3 years for a property that was suitable for her family and business; Emily is looking for an organic lifestyle with peace, quite and solitude; and that Emily wants to be a good neighbor. Board Member John Gohr stated that he appreciates the neighbors concerns but he believes it is a permitted home occupancy and he does not think the Board can deny this request based on those concerns.
Discussion was had regarding Administrator Sherman’s recommendation that the septic system be brought up to code as a condition of approving the conditional use request. Realtor Lori Stewart objected to this recommendation due to the Estate owning the property and Estates being exempt from the time of transfer inspection requirement. Administrator Sherman stated that it is still an illegal septic system; that his office is looking at the property as a whole when these requests come through including whether the septic system is adequate so this is not anything new with this request; and that Estates are not exempt from having an illegal septic system as there is no grandfathering for septic systems. Realtor Stewart inquired whether there was an Iowa Code and what it said. Assistant Day referred Realtor Stewart to Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 69 and stated that although she was unfamiliar with exactly what it said as far as leach pits go it does give the County authority to regulate them. In addition Administrator Sherman is also a certified time of transfer inspector and would know what is illegal and what is not. Realtor Dean Stewart stated that he has seen leach pits pass the time of transfer inspections recently and that they are allowed; and stated concerns with the thirty (30) day time limit being very limiting considering the time it takes to line up a contractor. Realtor Lori Stewart added that the system is functional and there is nothing wrong with it. Administrator Sherman stated that no leach pits have passed a time of transfer inspection in Floyd County and from talking to the DNR their stance is that they are not legal systems because they discharge. Board Member Staudt inquired whether the Board needed to put a condition regarding the septic system on their approval. Assistant Day stated that the Board can approve with or without the condition as that is entirely up to them, the Administrator is simply recommending that this condition be placed on the approval of the request. Board Member Staudt agreed that the date may be a little limiting. Assistant Day explained that if they were to run across a septic system draining into a road ditch, they give a 30 day notice to replace the system. If due to contractors being busy the system can not go in within the 30 days, we do allow for an extension as long as they communicate with us. In addition, we were up front with the applicant that this would be our recommendation when this request came through and that was well over a month ago. Assistant Day added that some date needs to be placed on the replacement even if it is longer than the 30 days being recommended for enforcement reasons. Co-Chair Bill Fluhrer inquired as to how this system differs from what Administrator Sherman recommends. It was determined that this system has an open discharge so when it overflows it overflows out of the pit and that is why they are illegal. The DNR requires a discharge permit for any open discharge and they will not permit these systems.
A motion to approve the conditional use request by Emily Kiewel to have a pottery workshop and retail area on property located at 3010 – 230th Street in the NE¼ of Section 29, Township 95 North, Range 15 West of the 5th P.M., St. Charles Township, with the condition that the septic system be brought up to code by no later than October 31, 2011, with the understanding that if a contractor was not available the applicants would work with Administrator Sherman on a new date, was made by Dennis Staudt and was seconded by John Gohr. Roll call vote was taken and the application was unanimously approved.
VI. Adjourn. Motion to close the hearing was made by John Gohr and was seconded by Dennis Staudt.
Jeff D. Sherman