• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Supervisors’ public hearing on comprehensive plan May 10

P&Z’s 24 recommended changes under consideration

IOWA CITY– The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposed Comprehensive Plan Thursday, May 10, at 5:30 p.m. The hearing is the latest step in what has been a nearly two-year process in crafting the document; the first of it’s kind for the county.
The Johnson County Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) voted 5-0 on Monday, April 9, to approve a draft of the plan with 24 recommended changes.
County Planning, Development and Sustainability (PDS) staff briefed the Supervisors on those recommendations during a Wednesday, April 18, work session. “We cannot and should not speak for P&Z,” Josh Busard, PDS Director, told the supervisors while prefacing the presentation. Busard also recommended the supervisors refrain from making statements (during the work session) about their personal feelings toward the recommendations so as to not discourage participation in the public hearing. “Try not to tip your hand,” Busard said.
Busard noted there have been at least 22 meetings ranging from “listening posts” to supervisors’ work sessions to efforts by the Comprehensive Planning Committee and meetings with the JEO Consulting Group (hired by the county to assist in developing the plan). In addition, numerous emails, phone calls, letters and comments posted on county websites were received, documented and incorporated into an appendices of the draft plan, he noted.
The proposed plan has been controversial at times with various agricultural interests expressing alarm at what they see as an anti-farm tone to the document, particularly when it comes to Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). Individual supervisors have stated publicly their concerns about such operations and continue to lobby for local control, rather than state regulation, of such facilities.
One recommendation from P&Z calls for changing “Confined Animal Feeding Operation, or CAFO” to “Animal Feeding Operation or AFO” throughout the 200-plus page document. The commission also called for striking a paragraph stating Johnson County should “discourage CAFOs.” P&Z also recommends revising the county’s Agricultural Exemption policy (related to property tax), which currently only applies to farm operations of 40 acres or more, discouraging smaller producers in the county.
The P&Z Commission also recommended restoring parts of the residential development areas in the North Corridor Development Area to the Future Land Use Map, which were removed per recommendations of the supervisors during a work session. The full list of recommended changes, including reference to the specific page, paragraph or action item are available online at jocoplan.com and at johnson-county.com/planning with paper copies available for viewing at the Johnson County Administration Building (913 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City) at the county auditor’s office (first floor) as well as at the board of supervisors and PDS offices (second floor). The full collection of meeting minutes and audio is also available online at johnsoncountyia.iqm2.com/citizens/default.aspx and found in the meeting groups “Planning and Zoning Commission” or “Board of Supervisors.”
The viewable draft is dated Jan. 29 and represents the latest edition. Recommended changes are presented as a supplement.
Supervisor Janelle Rettig expressed questions about the date of the draft, noting various staff changes which have not been reflected in the document, and pointing out older (2016) data, which could potentially need to be updated. “We’ll go through and correct all that,” Busard said. “We’re assuming the board’s gonna have some changes, and we’ll make those changes.”
The supervisors will take public comments during the May 10 meeting, to be held in the boardroom (second floor) of the administration building. After the chairman closes the public comments, the board may discuss recommended changes, and could call for a vote. Busard told the supervisors they would have three options at that point: adopt the plan as written, deny the plan or direct PDS staff to make changes, “Which could include some or all of P&Z’s recommendations,” he said.
More likely, it was noted, the board will vote on a final draft of the plan Thursday, May 17, during its regular meeting.
Additional information about the proposed plan can be obtained via jocoplan@co.johnson.ia.us or by phone at 319-356-6083.