Barn dance was legal
Thursday, June 19, 2014 9:29 AM
A recent barn dance hosted by Decorah’s Jim Dotzenrod did nothing to violate any county zoning ordinances.
That’s according to Winneshiek County Zoning Administrator Tony Phillips, who investigated the matter following a complaint lodged by Chimney Rock Campground Owner Deb Keefe about the event.
Two weeks ago, Keefe filed a formal complaint with the county attorney’s office that Dotzenrod hadn’t obtained a conditional-use permit for a barn dance she saw advertised in the newspaper.
Last fall, Keefe and event organizer Kyle Sorenson both were fined for failure to obtain a conditional-use permit for the Adventure Camp Music Festival.
Keefe has said she thinks the county is unfair in its enforcement of such matters and she will continue to draw attention to events that are potentially in violation in order to point out what she feels are discrepancies in enforcement of the ordinance.
On June 17, Phillips sent a letter to Keefe responding to her complaint.
In the letter, he said he had visited the site June 10 and taken photographs. On June 12, he sent a letter to Dotzenrod, informing him of the complaint and asking him to contact the zoning office.
On Monday, June 16, Dotzenrod met with Phillips to answer his inquiries.
Phillips’ findings of fact are as follows:
1) The disc jockey for the barn dance played inside the upper level of the barn.
2) No admission was charged for entry, nor were donations solicited.
3) Neither temporary structures nor permanent modifications were made to any existing structures, changing their principle use or requiring a “construction compliance certificate.”
4) The barn was restored by the previous owner.
Phillips went on to say the ordinance allows accessory uses and structures of the A-1 (agricultural) district, including “uses and structures clearly incidental to the permitted uses or structures of this district, not involving the conduct of business on the premise, except home occupations …”
In conclusion, Phillips wrote, “It is the opinion of the zoning administrator, that the ‘barn dance’ as a use, was clearly incidental to the permitted use of the property, and did not involve the conduct of business. No temporary facilities were constructed that would have required a conditional-use permit. No structures were remodeled, changing the use of the structure that would have required a construction compliance certificate.
Following his investigation into Keefe’s complaint, Phillips said he found no violations of the county’s ordinance and considers the matter closed.