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County to consider special events permit

IOWA CITY– The Johnson County Planning and Zoning Department (P&Z) has written new code for landowners hosting special events.
Up to 12 temporary outdoor activities, like music festivals, theatrical exhibitions, speeches or other entertainment, will be allowed per calendar year on properties zoned Agricultural, Residential, and split Ag/Residential.
The new permitting process places the burden on the applicant to publish a schedule before receiving a Multiple Special Events permit.
The new permit also requires that permanent structures used during the events have occupancy permits or are inspected by the county.
The Board of Supervisors will review the new code at their meeting on Jan. 12.
Planning and Zoning Administrator Rick Dvorak said the new category is just for things like the special events and wedding sites run by Mary Ellen Hill and Dick Schwab that were in the news this year after their conditional use permits came under scrutiny. Each was given a temporary permit that expired in October.
Last month, Hill’s 33-acre Gazebo on the Green was given a 12-month extension. Hill indicated at that time that she will decide the fate of her flower gardens and prairie paths this winter. In December, Schwab’s Celebration Barn, the wooded site off Sugar Bottom Road where events and weddings have been held for the last five years, was denied a renewed permit by the Johnson County Board of Adjustment.