Supervisors take no further action on amendment to Zoning Ordinance regarding towers within Bluffland Protection District

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, April 29 to address a full agenda of items including the First Reading of Amendment #3 to Zoning Ordinance L, consideration of a letter requesting NRCS professional expertise for the English Bench Watershed #9 and the discussion of nuisance properties and remedies and actions.

During Public Comment, Chairperson Larry Schellhammer discussed a recent conversation where he was informed that the U.S. Flag in front of the County Courthouse may be showing some wear and may be in need of replacement. Supervisor Dennis Koenig left the board room briefly to inspect the flag and upon his return indicated that due to the recent rainfall, it is difficult to see any damage or wear. The Supervisors agreed to examine the condition of the flag when it dries out and precipitation is not an issue.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of abatement of Mobile Home taxes for Laughridge and Ali with Supervisor Dan Byrnes clarifying that one mobile home was removed three years ago and the other has been demolished with the owner being deceased. The Supervisors approved the tax abatements as presented. The consideration of the abatement of taxes for Ali (three years) and Freilinger were also reviewed with the Supervisors approving the abatement.

The Quarterly Report for the Allamakee County Relief Office was accepted and placed on file. The Manure Management Plan for Red Ink Ranch was also accepted and placed on file.

The Supervisors discussed setting dates in June for watershed inspections with Byrnes reading a portion of an email from Brianne Wild with the Allamakee Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Wild’s email asked Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer for dates and times that would work with the Supervisors’ schedules in June. Byrnes recommended waiting until early June to develop a schedule for watershed inspections, with Koenig and Schellhammer in agreement.

The First Reading of Amendment #3 to Zoning Ordinance L was discussed with Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake providing an overview of the matter. Blake discussed the Public Hearing for Amendment #3 that was held at the previous Supervisors meeting Monday, April 22 with some objections relating to the definition of a public project and that the Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended approval of the amendment as a clarification.

At the April 22 meeting, Blake provided an overview of this matter with discussion having also taken place July 30, 2018 due to a communications tower application from Northeast Iowa Telephone Company (NEIT) as a subcontractor for AT&T following the State of Iowa’s decision to be included in the FirstNet First Responders Network. At that meeting, Blake read aloud the proposed amendment, “Towers greater than thirty-five (35) feet in height shall not be placed within one-quarter (1/4) mile of the Bluffland Protection District except towers constructed for those uses set forth in Section 302.5(1) of the Allamakee County Zoning Ordinance: Governmental public projects, public utilities and fencing.”

At Monday’s meeting, Blake discussed that Allamakee County Attorney Anthony Gericke has indicated that the current ordinance is clear but did not have any issues with the clarification. The Supervisors and Blake discussed that Zoning Ordinance L will continue to be applied in the same manner with or without the amendment, and that the amendment does not affect the interpretation of the ordinance. With this being the case, the Supervisors were in agreement to take no action at this time with the matter to possibly be reviewed at a future date.

The Supervisors moved into discussion of the Troy Hansmeier property right-of-way issues with Blake providing an overview of the matter. Blake indicated that Hansmeier has applied for a building permit and was unaware of right-of-way issues on the property purchased as the site for a new house.

Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussed options available for Hansmeier with a house already purchased and scheduled for delivery at the property. Ridenour indicated that another property owned by Hansmeier could be used as an alternate site or the permanent placement of the house could be delayed with temporary storage of the house elsewhere on his property. The Supervisors were in agreement that a public hearing will be necessary if Hansmeier requests that the County vacate interest in the right-of-way to allow the permanent placement of the house. Ridenour and Blake indicated that they will follow up with Hansmeier relating to his decision on the property and house.

Allamakee County Environmental Health Director/Sanitarian Laurie Moody addressed the next agenda item involving the discussion of nuisance properties and remedies and actions available. Moody discussed State Code and the Allamakee County Board of Health Rules and Regulations Ordinance, advising that the property being discussed could potentially be determined a nuisance under State Code or prosecuted as a civil matter. Moody presented copies of complaint forms to be filled out and signed by neighboring property owners in attendance including Denny and Nancy Sweeney and Gary and Joan David, who also provided feedback on the nuisance property being discussed.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick and Blake recommended researching the covenant signed by property owners in this private development. Gericke indicated that a notice from the County Attorney’s office has been created which will likely generate action at the property and establish a dialogue relating to the necessary clean-up. Gericke discussed involving family members who may not be aware of the condition of the house and property. Blake advised that a rough draft of a nuisance ordinance has been created, with Moody adding that Gericke has reviewed the ordinance and has some recommendations for additional text.

Ridenour discussed the next agenda item involving a letter requesting Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) professional expertise for English Bench Watershed Site #9. Ridenour indicated that a letter requesting various planning and design services from the NRCS is required from the Board of Supervisors and SWCD for assistance in repairing the English Bench Watershed Site #9. Ridenour provided an overview of the three options available including repairing and rebuilding the dam and stabilizing the foundation, creation of a drainage structure or abandonment and decommission. The Supervisors approved the letter requesting expertise from the NRCS.

Ridenour also discussed the request to hire a temporary part-time laborer for the Secondary Roads Department, providing a recommendation to hire Carter Fuhrman at $11.75 per hour without benefits and a start date of May 6. The Supervisors approved the hiring of Fuhrman as a temporary laborer.

The contracts and bonds for road rock resurfacing were discussed with Ridenour providing a recommendation of Bruening Rock Products, the previously approved low bidder in all six divisions at the April 15 Supervisors meeting, with Division 1 - 20,435 tons at $224,355.86, Division 2 - 23,360 tons at $248,527.04, Division 3 - 25,538 tons at $273,231.06, Division 4 - 22,830 tons at $169,832.37, Division 5 - 17,600 tons at $130,926.40 and Division 6 - 12,660 tons at $134,689.74. The contract and bonds for Bruening Rock Products were approved by the Supervisors.

Beyer addressed the next agenda item involving the signing of the Certification of Cost Allocation Plan from Cost Advisory Services for indirect cost recoveries for Fiscal-Year 2018, to be received in Fiscal-Year 2020. Beyer discussed that Cost Advisory Services is the company that figures the indirect costs for the Department of Human Services (DHS). Beyer discussed that the total indirect cost to be claimed on their quarterly local administrative expense (LAE) reports Fiscal-Year 2020 is $66,171.00 with an estimated 33% at $22,166.00 to be reimbursed to the County. The Supervisors approved to sign the certification.

The Supervisors moved into discussion of the County Vehicle Policy draft with Beyer indicating the work on this policy is ongoing. Mellick and Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker discussed exceptions to the policy for their respective departments due to required availability for emergency response. Beyer indicated that auditors Hacker, Nelson and Co. have recommended that a policy be created. The Supervisors agreed to continue discussion of this policy at the next Department Head meeting.

Under Department Head Updates, Ridenour discussed recent weather conditions and ongoing equipment maintenance including the removal of snow blades. Ridenour also discussed upcoming meetings and various projects including the A26 bridge replacement project.

Snitker discussed the recent snowfall and weather conditions which postponed the emergency management training exercises originally scheduled for April 27, now rescheduled for May 11 in New Albin. Snitker also talked about river levels, flooding and disaster declaration.

Mellick discussed that it was a quiet weekend at the Sheriff’s Office with the snowfall Saturday, April 27 resulting in one rollover accident. Moody discussed inspections relating to tanning beds, tattoo parlors, septic systems and advised that 26 water samples will be taken this week.

Blake indicated that the Board of Adjustment will meet Wednesday evening to discuss the Wennes Communications tower and discussed upcoming meetings and a conference. Beyer discussed recent election training in anticipation of combined city and school elections, which also covered cyber security matters. Beyer indicated that Hacker, Nelson and Co. has set October 7 for the Fiscal-Year 2019 audit.

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