For the second time in two weeks, the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors has tabled enforcement of a county zoning violation at Chimney Rock Campground.
Last month, the Board chose not to enforce a violation of the A-1 agricultural zoning ordinance at Chimney Rock Campground in Bluffton. The discussion came following the denial of a recent request by Chimney Rock Owner Deb Keefe to rezone the property occupied by three rental cabins from A-1 agricultural to C-1 commercial. Keefe, whose campground currently exists as a "legal nonconforming use" of A-1 agricultural, had revised a previous zoning request after the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial of a request to change the campground from A-1 agricultural to C-1 highway commercial.
Before tabling a decision on whether or not to enforce the zoning violation, the Board of Supervisors discussed current "inadequacies in zoning" and discussed the fact it had just given Zoning Administrator Tony Phillips permission to research hiring a consultant to help the county update its comprehensive zoning plan.
The right thing
Attorney Jim Burns, who is representing Keefe, told the Board he felt it had made the right decision in tabling the enforcement.
"I think we've made some legitimate proposals and we're on the agenda for the Planning and Zoning Commission's next meeting," said Burns.
Burns added the cabins won't be in use over the winter months and the Board could take some time to think about any action.
"We want to work things out with the Board in a rational and reasonable way. We also don't want to have our cabins singled out for assault by zoning ordinances," said Burns.
"Poor Deb feels like she is being singled out as the first in a whole lot of different things, the first of which is this zoning ordinance," said Burns.
Board Chair John Logsdon encouraged Burns to present any proposals for ordinance changes to Steve Belay of the Winneshiek County Attorney's office, who works with the P & Z.
"Nobody is trying to make an example out of anyone or hurt anyone," added Logsdon.
An emotional Keefe next addressed the Board.
"I rue the day I ever came into Tony's (Phillips) office to make my cabins legal. I have been singled out. It's pretty dang sad. I've never dealt with a system that's this dysfunctional," said Keefe.
Keefe noted she has spent a year trying to bring her campground into compliance and there are several other area campgrounds that rent out cabins in violation of county zoning ordinances.
"Somebody better do something," said Keefe.
Board Member Dennis Karlsbroten added, "I think it's in the best interest of this Board to wait until the Planning and Zoning Commission revisits this."