Government

Marion residents say Marion Municipal Airport zoning ordinance would strip them of property rights

Linn County Supervisors delay approval of ordinance, asking for clarity on how it affects property owners

The Marion Airport is seen from the top of a grain storage bin. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
The Marion Airport is seen from the top of a grain storage bin. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Supervisors delayed approving a zoning ordinance for the Marion Municipal Airport — which had been approved by Marion City Council last year — voicing concerns about how it could affect Marion’s future development and that residents have not been fully informed of the ordinance.

Some residents have expressed concern the proposed ordinance would limit what they build and hurt resale value of their property.

Supervisor Brent Oleson delayed the first of three votes to adopt the ordinance for Linn County, asking for time for an on-site of drive the perimeter of the overlay zones, to get a better understanding of the land and landowners affected by the ordinance.

The ordinance details land-use restrictions for residential, commercial, industrial, agriculture, and parks and recreation activities in five overlay zones surrounding the airport.

Oleson also asked Tom Treharne, Planning and Development director for the city of Marion, if staff had approached affected landowners and explained how the ordinance might affect them.

“What I’ve found over the years is a simple knock on the door and explanation would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars and irate phone calls to me,” Oleson said. “Once we’ve improved communication, there’s a whole different change in attitude.

“I would want that commitment before we move on to negotiate a 28E Agreement.”

Community meetings to answer questions about the ordinance were held at Marion City Hall, with county and city staff, on Dec. 9, and the Linn County Jean Oxley Public Service Center on Dec. 16.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

The Linn County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended supervisors approve the ordinance with a 4-2 vote.

Linn County Planning and Development Director Les Beck said that the opposition to the ordinance was not expressed, but “I think it was sympathetic to concerns expressed by rural property owners about additional regulations.”

Linn County eventually has to approve the ordinance or they could be sued by the city of Marion, Beck said.

The Marion City Council approved the ordinance in October to comply with grants received by the Department of Transportation to reconstruct the runway.

Bob Kettelkamp, of Marion, owns a 130-acre dairy farm a mile and a half south of the airport runway, which he has operated for 35 years.

With the new airport zoning ordinances, Kettlekamp is unable to build a house on his property, which he hoped his children may want to do someday. He also is concerned the Federal Aviation Administration will find his three 80-foot-high silos incompatible with the ordinance, which allows buildings to be 35 to 45 feet high compared to the elevation of the runway.

“It’s a matter of losing property value and losing property rights,” Kettlekamp said. “I don’t know where we sit with the silos.

“I know we can’t build a house. I understand the need for zoning, but I don’t understand the need for a 20-acre airport to have control over 2,000 acres.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Once the ordinance is adopted by the county, Marion and Linn County will enter into a 28E Agreement, which specifies that if Linn County receives permit applications for new construction within the Marion Municipal Airport overlay zone, those permits will be forwarded to the city of Marion for review.

While Iowa Code exempts farm land and farm structures from building and zoning regulations, Beck said Linn County still asks residents to submit an application for exemption. The exemption requests within the overlay zone also will be forwarded to the city of Marion for review.

The city purchased the airport in 2015. It had been privately owned.

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.