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Changes on hold

Supervisors’ UDO amendment discussion delayed until July 9

IOWA CITY– Throughout the development of Johnson County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan and its companion Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), the Johnson County Farm Bureau and the County’s Planning, Development, and Sustainability Department (PDS) have been at odds with each other.
On Thursday, April 9, both entities were in complete agreement.
The Johnson County Board of Supervisors was to take up a request by the Farm Bureau to amend portions of the UDO relating to agricultural topics in general, and language in the UDO in particular. The 300-page document was approved by the supervisors last December and implemented on Jan. 15. On March 9, the Farm Bureau presented seven proposed amendments during a meeting of the County Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission after submitting a $750 application to amend the text.
“The amendments’ purpose is to implement the stated intent of the county board of supervisors, planning and zoning commission, and PDS staff in adopting the UDO such that the language of the ordinance mirrors the stated intentions,” said Johnson County Farm Bureau President Mark Ogden at the time. He pointed out the UDO “does not consistently refer to Iowa Code 335.2,” which forbids counties from regulating agriculture, and “uses language inconsistent with this code provision.”
After several hours of discussion and debate, 34 changes were approved by P&Z on a 4-0 vote while nine were denied on a 3-1 vote. The 34 changes were then sent to the supervisors for a public hearing and consideration of adoption at their April 9 formal meeting.
During the April 9 meeting, with Supervisors Lisa Green-Douglass, Royceann Porter and Janelle Rettig participating by telephone, Nate Mueller, the assistant director for PDS, said the Farm Bureau had submitted a written request to defer the application (PZC-20-27825) to July. Mueller gave a brief synopsis of the application and the March meeting.
“Shortly after that everything changed quite drastically with how we’re hosting our public meetings,” he said. “Staff feels it would be most prudent to do that and to push this down the road until we’re able to get everybody together again, and hope we have a good discussion on it.”
The Supervisors agreed 5-0 to continue the public hearing and defer consideration of the application to Thursday, July 9, at 5:30 p.m.
“Obviously things are quite different than they’ve ever been here,” said Chairman Rod Sullivan in agreeing to the deferment. “We’ll play this by ear,” he added noting a second deferment would be granted, although unusual, if needed.