Chimney Rock Canoe Rental and Campground owner Deb Keefe is suing the county.

In a lawsuit filed last month by Keefe, she challenges the county's refusal to rezone a narrow strip of land at her campground from A-1 agricultural to C-1 commercial to bring three existing cabins into compliance with county zoning ordinances.

The Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors responded Monday by voting unanimously to proceed with enforcement of county zoning ordinances regarding the cabins. Keefe will be notified in writing the structures are illegal and must be removed, due to her failure to obtain construction-compliance certificates (building permits) for the cabins.

In addition, the motion directs the county attorney to proceed with the defense of the pending litigation against both the Board of Supervisors and the Planning and Zoning Commission.


The lawsuit states the county's position on this matter is "unreasonable, arbitrary and discriminatory," because similar requests have been made by similar parties and granted.

In addition, the suit asks the court to reverse the decision, calling it "illegal" because the recommendation and decisions are "not consistent with the facts as presented at the public hearing."

The lawsuit goes on to contend the county did not have a factual basis for denying Keefe's rezoning request and the decision was inconsistent with and in opposition to the Winneshiek County Comprehensive (land-use) Smart Plan.

In September, the Board of Supervisors took no action to enforce a violation of the A-1 agricultural zoning at Chimney Rock.

The Planning and Zoning Commission also denied a recent request by Keefe to rezone the property occupied by three rental cabins from A-1 agricultural to C-1 commercial.

Keefe's campground currently exists as a "legal conforming use" of A-1 agricultural. She had revised a previous zoning request after the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial of a request to change the entire campground from A-1 agricultural to C-1 highway commercial.

Last month, the Board again tabled the discussion of enforcement, citing current "inadequacies in zoning" and discussed a recent motion to give Phillips permission to research hiring a consultant to help the county update its comprehensive plan.

What's next?

According to Phillips. A notice was sent by mail Tuesday, Nov. 5, notifying Keefe the existing structures are illegal and must be removed.

The notice orders Keefe to "discontinue use of and remove the illegal structures ... not later than Dec. 5, 2013 and shall be completed, with the land returned to the original state, not later than March 5, 2014."

In addition, the notice says violations of the zoning ordinance will be prosecuted by the county attorney.