Occupy Iowa City protesters won't be able to build 'permanent' structure at park

Structure must be moveable, officials say; meeting later Monday to determine plans

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Iowa City parks and recreation director Mike Moran met with Occupy Iowa City protesters on Monday to discuss building limitations for a wooden structure that the group began to construct last week on city property.

The protesters began to build the frame of the structure last Friday, just after signing a four-month permit agreement with the city of Iowa City to remain at the park through the winter.

"We [city employees] were certainly surprised when we heard that they had begun to build something at the park," Moran said. "I really thought that we had a good dialogue going with them."

After learning about the construction, Moran delivered a cease and desist order to the protesters at the park Friday afternoon. The protesters then stopped building the structure, which they hope will eventually act as a kitchen area and a warm-up room as temperatures begin to drop.

The protesters will not be given a building permit, Moran said, because no permanent structure may be constructed on city property. The protesters don't want one, said Stephany Hoffelt, with the protesters' outreach committee. The protesters' plans were to take the structure down, Hoffelt said. "We are not asking for a building permit, to my knowledge," she said Monday afternoon. A previous report at TheGazette.com that the group voted to seek a building permit during its general assembly on Friday night was inaccurate, she said. The general assembly voted to accept the city's restrictions for camping in the park, she said.

"They [Occupy Iowa City protesters] are allowed a structure 10 feet by 10 feet or smaller," Moran said. "But they have to be able to move it every three or four days until the ground is frozen and work within [building] regulations."

For now, the protesters have to wait to move forward with construction. They are planning to meet with the city's building inspector at some point Monday to determine what type of structure they will be allowed to construct.

Moran says the group will likely not face any type of penalty for having started to build the structure without having permit in the first place.

The city also plans to continue having an open line of communication with the group for the duration of their occupation at the park, he said.

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