Neighboring properties discussedWashington City Council approves airport zoning study grant request
The Washington City Council unanimously approved a request to support a zoning grant application for the Washington City Airport during a special meeting Wednesday, but not before discussing the impact such a program might have on neighboring property owners.
During discussion of the grant application to the Iowa Department of Transportation to fund $14,100 of the $16,600 project to study the area around the airport and determine zoning changes to protect the airspace, council member Bob Shepherd said he felt such a project would remove value from neighboring properties. He suggested that, if the council wished to proceed with the project, there could be some way the city could reimburse property owners for limitations made to the properties.
“We are stealing some of the value of those properties,” Shepherd said. “If it is so important that we downgrade the use of a property that’s owned by a private individual, that person should not have to shoulder the cost of that entire downgrade.”
City administrator Brent Hinson said that zoning in general exists to protect the overall good. He said that the airport, which is not inside the city, is currently covered by Washington County’s zoning code. He said if the county’s zoning code is removed — which three of the five Washington County supervisors have indicated is their intent — the city would have to annex the airport.
“In the American society in general you give up certain rights and there is always a dispute over where you draw that line,” Hinson said. “You need to give up certain individual freedoms. Ultimately you have to make a value judgment.”
Council member Merle Hagie said that he wanted to see what the results of the survey are and what the impact would be to property owners. Hinson said that he did not believe anything would be done that would downgrade the neighboring properties’ value as agricultural land, but any zoning would keep the land from being developed into something else. Hinson said if the grant is rejected the city would have to apply again to do the project.
“We believe our chance of getting the grant is pretty high,” Hinson said.
Council member Bob Shellmyer questioned the authority of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which determines public safety measures for airports. He said that in Burlington the FAA had prohibited several constructions around the local area that people have done anyway.
A zoning ordinance is already in place that sets height restrictions based on distance from the airport’s runways. Hinson said most of the properties surrounding the area are zoned ag, and he said the airport
commission is hoping the new code would ensure the land remains ag. Most of the neighboring lands are not inside Washington City limits.
In other business, the council:
• approved an outdoor service permit for café dodici;
• denied a request from the Washington Chamber of Commerce 3-2 for $500 to be used for a television promotion. The expense hadn’t been budgeted. Councilmen Hagie and Fred Stark had voted to approve the request;
• agreed to consider an ordinance that would charge one cost of base water for every 1.5 empty lots at Parkside Estates. The first reading of the ordinance will be at the May 1 meeting and three readings are required;
• discussed a treatment agreement with Iowa Renewable Energy (IRE). IRE is agreeing to pay more than normal to hook onto the city’s wastewater system;
• approved going out for bids for the city’s 2013 seal coat project; and
• began discussion of the city’s 2014-18 capital improvement plan.