IOWA CITY — A nine-month quest to keep a house styled after Kinnick Stadium — complete with a courtyard, commercial kitchen and architectural details evoking a press box and brick archways — from being built in a residential neighborhood ended this month when neighbors lost a court fight.
The Neighbors of Manville Heights Association has been fighting since June to prevent the roughly 7,500-square-foot structure from being built at 101 Lusk Ave.
They fear the facility will be used as a party house, particular on Hawkeye football weekends. But the association will not appeal the district court judge’s ruling.
“We were just very disappointed, very very disappointed, and that we respectfully but strongly disagree with the decisions,” Karin Southard, president of the neighborhood association, said Monday evening. “We believe that there needs to be considerable change.”
Decorah residents Frederic Reed Carlson and Sandy Carlson plan the home at the end of a dead-end street. Reed Carlson previously told The Gazette the couple intends to use it as a family gathering space, and that the house would be vacant much of the year.
The neighbors said the city erred in classifying the home as a single-family residence and as a result mistakenly issued a building permit. The neighbors pointed to numerous city codes, such as those for sewer and fire, that the house supposedly violated to make their legal case.
Judge Ian K. Thornhill issued his ruling March 16, weeks ahead of a hearing this Friday.
The case that was considered by the court actually was an appeal by the neighbors of a Sept. 30 Iowa City Board of Adjustment decision, which had upheld the city’s classification and building permit.
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“ ... The Court concludes that there is substantial evidence to support the Board’s decision to uphold the issuance of the building permit to the Carlsons,” according to the ruling. “ ... the substantial evidence considered by the Board led to the Board appropriately concluding that the proposed structure includes the features necessary for it to be a single-family use facility.”
The neighbors’ attorney, Jim Larew, said in an email statement that his clients feel “under the City’s staff’s interpretation of the City Code, no residential neighborhood is safe” from a structure similar to the Kinnick-like house.
“They believe that a reasonable interpretation of Iowa City’s zoning ordinance by City staff should not result in a building permit being issued for a huge structure like this on the end of a narrow dead-end street in a quiet residential neighborhood,” he wrote.
Most recently, the Carlsons promised in a Jan. 30 hearing at the Johnson County Courthouse that they would halt construction on the property until the matter was settled in court.
An attorney for the Carlsons could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
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