Government

NewBo salvage store Little House Artifacts wins outside display

Cedar Rapids boards agree after city cited violation

Beth DeBoom, owner, writes a sale tag Feb. 27 for an item outside at Little House Artifacts in Cedar Rapids. After the city said the outdoor display violated the zoning code, DeBoom won permission from two city panels to install a new, more limited outside display area. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Beth DeBoom, owner, writes a sale tag Feb. 27 for an item outside at Little House Artifacts in Cedar Rapids. After the city said the outdoor display violated the zoning code, DeBoom won permission from two city panels to install a new, more limited outside display area. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids businesswoman has won her quest to display merchandise in the front yard of her salvage store, weeks after officials ordered her to clean it up.

Owner Beth DeBoom said she will begin setting up the display outside Little House Artifacts this weekend when the weather improves.

“The whole thing has been a setback, but now that it is over and I can move forward. I am very happy and eager and enthusiastic,” DeBoom said. “I will start getting customers in again because it really attracts people. I am looking forward to being back in business.”

Last fall, a person who was not identified, questioned the legality of the outdoor display at DeBoom’s property, 1301 Third St. SE in the New Bohemia District, to City Manager Jeff Pomeranz, who forwarded the inquiry to staff to review.

Staff determined the display violated the zoning code requiring outdoor display and sales areas to be kept in a “neat, clean, orderly fashion.”

DeBoom said the outdoor display enticed vehicle and foot traffic to stop in and neighbors said they supported it.

City staff had provided information to DeBoom about getting a conditional use permit in November, but DeBoom did not take action to get into compliance and was given a March 2 deadline to clean up the yard.

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On March 1, she applied for a conditional use permit and a variance to allow the outdoor display to be 598 square feet, which exceeds the normal allowance of 10 percent of gross square footage of the principal structure. The store is 1,373 square feet, which would have limited the display to just 137 square feet.

City staff recommended approving conditional use and did not oppose the variance as long as she built a hard surface for the display, as is required by the zoning code. The City Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment approved the requests.

“This area is designated as urban high intensity on the city’s future land use map,” staff wrote in supporting documents. “As such, an outdoor display area conforms to the intent of the comprehensive plan.”

DeBoom characterized building a new surface as costly and overkill given she maintained it all along, but she is working to comply. She plans to use a combination of pavers and bricks rather then a concrete pad to maintain the historic character of the building.

She will build a couple of square areas in the front yard and a brick area along the front of the house, she said.

The bricks are being delivered next week, and she anticipates it will take about a week for her and her husband, Tom, and possibly a hired hand, to construct the surfaces, she said.

“It’s better for the environment and it’s historic,” she said. “When all is said and done it will look nice.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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