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P&Z to review fringe area rezoning

City to seek developer’s agreement when Dillon’s Furrow land subdivides Residential sought for 72 acres

SOLON– The City of Solon intends to keep tabs on a proposed residential development within its southern 2-mile fringe area.
At a June 3 meeting, council members voted to send a rezoning request by Nick Hemann, of rural Solon, to the city’s Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission for review.
Hemann is asking Johnson County to residentially rezone 72.16 acres located east of Dillons Furrow Road NE, just over a mile from Solon’s southern border.
The potential rural subdivision came before the city council in August 2019, when council members considered a future land use amendment request for the property.
Since then, City Administrator Cami Rasmussen explained, council approved a fringe area rezoning request for a much smaller outer portion of the overall property between Dillons Furrow Road NE and Highway 1.
The rezoning request was allowed because of the land use amendment, she said, while rezoning of the eastern portion would allow Hemann to proceed with a subdivision application.
“When there is a subdivision, at some point in the future, that will also come before council,” she added.
She outlined two options for the council– waive the review of the rezoning request, or request it be reviewed by P&Z.
Council members chose the latter.
Back in August, Mayor Steve Stange said he did not want city taxpayers to be on the hook for water mains and sewer systems when the city extends to the development.
At the time, City Attorney Kevin Olson indicated other cities asked for and received a fringe-area developer’s agreement to address annexation and possible future assessments against homeowners for water, sewer, streets and storm water management.
Council members narrowly consented to the land use change on a 3-2 vote.
At the June 3 session, Olson said the developer’s agreement would come with the subdivision documents, not with the rezoning.
When asked by Stange for recommendations, Olson had no opinion, indicating it was the council’s prerogative.
City Engineer Dave Schechinger felt the same way, but added the development’s potential size and proximity were deserving of scrutiny.
“Until we see some more detail, I wouldn’t really have anything to comment on,” Schechinger said. “This is more of a discussion at the council level to see if they want rezoning to occur.”
But it also has to do with the ability to develop the property in accordance with city standards, he said. The smaller parcel was not as much of a concern, but the larger area within the city’s growth area warrants discussion, he said. If P&Z members think growth will occur sooner rather than later, it could lead the city to push harder for the developer to accept city design standards, he added.
Council member Lauren Whitehead agreed.
“This is the exact kind of development we need to be keeping an eye on,” she noted.
Sandy Steil, of MMS Consultants, Inc., of Iowa City, representing the developer, asked whether council members would prefer the P&Z review with the rezoning request or when a concept plan could be presented with the subdivision application.
Back in August, Hemann proposed developing 40-45 residential lots 1-2 acres in size.
At the June 3 meeting, Steil told Stange the developer doesn’t know how many houses will be proposed. Construction will be phased out primarily because of the current economic climate, she said.
Hemann is asking the county to rezone 62.61 acres of the property as general single-family residential, with 9.55 acres to be zoned RUA, an urban density single-family zoning district.
The land is currently zoned for agricultural use.
The RUA designation provides more flexibility with smaller lots, Steil said, with up to four units per acre discussed as a possibility for retirement living.
Council members all supported sending the rezoning request to the P&Z with a 4-0 vote.