Area citizens will have the chance to comment on the possible rezoning of a local campground next week.
The Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, on a rezoning request from Chimney Rock Campground owner Deb Keefe.
Keefe has revised a previous proposal to rezone her entire campground from A-1 agricultural to C-1 commercial after the Winneshiek County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the supervisors deny the original request. During the Commission's public hearing on the matter, numerous neighbors expressed concerns about the rezoning and the additional traffic, noise and garbage which could result.
Keefe has now revised her request and is asking to rezone specific areas occupied by her rental cabins from A-1 agricultural to C-1 commercial. Winneshiek County Zoning Administrator Tony Phillips explained since Winneshiek County's establishment of zoning in 1994, Keefe's campground has existed as a "legal nonconforming use" of A-1 agricultural, which does not allow for expansion in size, scope or structure without rezoning.
Rezoning of the property occupied by the cabins to C-1 is necessary for her to stay in compliance with county zoning codes. He explained some of the cabins she is requesting rezoning for already exist and some will be constructed in the future. Chimney Rock Campground is located north of Bluffton along the Upper Iowa River.
Before last weekend's Adventure Camp Music Festival at the campground, several neighbors lodged complaints about the noise and traffic it would generate. Keefe and event organizer Kyle Sorenson did not receive a conditional-use permit for the festival, and more than 1,000 tickets were sold for the event.
Following the festival, neighboring property owner David Reis said he is frustrated there isn't more enforcement at the campground and that no one seems to want to take responsibility for such events.
"Just because we live out here, we shouldn't be abused by events that would not be tolerated in the city limits," said Reis, adding in order to get to sleep Friday and Saturday nights he had to turn up his air conditioning and put a pillow over his head.
"I would like the Board of Supervisors and Planning and Zoning to deal with it in a reasonable manner ... If they're going to have large venues, maybe the county should consider where they're going to be held. I don't want it in my backyard."
County Attorney Andy Van Der Maaten, Assistant County Attorney Steve Belay and Sheriff Lee Bohr discussed the situation during Monday's Board of Supervisors' meeting.
Bohr reported there weren't any public safety issues associated with the weekend event, only the complaints about noise
After the Board meeting, Van Der Maaten said Belay will be working with Phillips to file complaints against Keefe for failing to have a permit for the music festival. The penalty for violating the county's zoning ordinance is $100 per day, Van Der Maaten said.
The county attorney said it would be beneficial to better define "musical event."
"We need to address it for future events," he said.
Van Der Maaten said the Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment will likely be addressing the matter.