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Kinnick-style house can be built in Iowa City, for now

Neighbors could take case to court

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IOWA CITY — For now, a Decorah couple has the OK to build a home that looks like Kinnick Stadium in an Iowa City neighborhood, though their neighbors indicated they’ll likely take the issue to court.

The Iowa City Board of Adjustment, which heard the neighbors’ appeal of the city’s granting the structure a building permit, split 2-2 on the issue Friday night, with one member recusing herself.

That means the plan can proceed since three votes were required to overturn the city’s decision. City staff classified the house as a single-family dwelling and issued the building permit.

The decision came during the Board of Adjustment meeting at the East Side Recycling Center — the third one on the issue, with a combined 12 hours of public comment.

Attorneys for the landowners, Fredric Reed Carlson and Sandy Carlson of Decorah, declined to comment about the decision.

Karin Southard, president of the Neighbors of Manville Heights Association, said the neighbors are “very disappointed, but we’re not finished.”

Neighbors hoped to stop the Carlsons from building the 7,500-square-foot house at 101 Lusk Ave., concerned the home would be an entertainment venue that could overwhelm the neighborhood with people and cars.

“We have so much support in our neighborhood,” Southard said. “There is a lot of empathy for our situation right now.”

In addition to traditional bedrooms, the house plans call for a home theater, sport court, courtyard, an industrial kitchen, and women and men’s bathrooms.

The Carlsons have said the home is to be used for family gatherings.

The board’s decision is binding unless it’s appealed to district court.

Southard said she expects neighbors will support taking the case to court.

Two members of the Board of Adjustment — Tim Weitzel and Becky Soglin — voted in support of the city’s decision to issue a building permit.

Board members Larry Baker and T. Gene Chrischilles voted in opposition to the city’s position.

Soglin said neighbors had “great assumptions” in predetermining the use of the property. She said that while the house is unattractive and unusual, entertainment uses can be part of a residence.

“I do find that the building property is classified as a single-family dwelling,” Soglin said. “Any possible uses depends on enforcement.”

Chrischilles disagreed, saying in his view the home’s primary use was for entertainment, with an accessory use as a residence.

He said the city’s zoning code should be altered to account for structures similar to the Kinnick-like house.

“I think it lies in an as-yet-to-be-created category,” Chrischilles said.

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