Keefe discusses complaint, wants Tony Philips held accountable
Thursday, June 12, 2014 1:38 PM
A Decorah campground owner feels the county has spent the last year raking her over the coals.
Chimney Rock Campground owner Deb Keefe made the comment during Monday’s Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Keefe was present to discuss a formal complaint she had filed late last week with the county attorney’s office claiming Decorah’s Jimmy Dotzenrod hadn’t obtained a conditional-use permit for a barn dance that was held last Saturday night.
Last fall, Keefe and event organizer Kyle Sorenson both were charged for failure to obtain a conditional-use permit for the Adventure Camp Music Festival.
Sorenson had obtained both a fireworks and liquor permit for the festival, but had been unaware he was required to request a conditional-use permit for the event. Keefe indicated the county could have let Sorenson know he needed to apply for a conditional-use permit at the time he requested the others.
Keefe said this is her 20th year in business.
“What the county has done to me in the last year has broken my spirit,” said Keefe, referring to the fines she had to pay for failure to obtain a conditional-use permit for the concert and a recent order by the county to remove some rental cabins that were deemed out of compliance with county zoning.
Keefe said in doing research, she has learned the enforcement of conditional-use permits often happen as the result of a citizen complaint.
“Ultimately, it is up to the people and neighbors and such to narc,” said Keefe.
“Your zoning administrator claims to be unaware of these events,” she added, referring to Tony Phillips.
Keefe said she filed her complaint, “because apparently it’s my public duty to keep you informed.”
Keefe referenced an article which recently ran in the Decorah Newspapers, where Phillips instructed the supervisors to direct all questions about zoning to him.
“Who is the employer and who is the employee? It is your responsibility to know these things, so you can react and vote on things intelligently,” she said.
Keefe added, “When you decided to single me out and change the rules, you opened this can of worms and you must take responsibility for this action.”
Keefe told the supervisors it is Phillips’ job “to investigate and to enforce the provisions of the zoning ordinance … I ask you to hold him accountable to his job duties as they are printed.”
Keefe next asked, “Is the county going to charge Jim Dotzenrod the same as they charged me for a music event without a permit? I just need to know there is going to be some consistency.”
Board Chair John Logsdon said it is the county’s intention to have standard rules which are followed.
“We have a Planning and Zoning Commission that was appointed. He (Phillips) works for them,” said Logsdon.
When Logsdon said it is not the supervisors’ job to oversee the Commission or Phillips, Keefe responded, “It is your job to make him do his duty.”
Logsdon next told Keefe her complaint has been registered and “everyone will be looking at it … If there is something that needs to be done in the eyes of the zoning administrator in legal terms, it will be done … Our goal is to have a standard practice that is applied to all, evenly and equally and equitably.”