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					MINUTES                                                                              APPROVED
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION
MARCH 5, 2009 – 7:30 PM – FORMAL
CITY HALL, EMMA J. HARVAT HALL



MEMBERS PRESENT:                        Ann Freerks, Josh Busard, Charlie Eastham, Elizabeth Koppes,
                                        Tim Weitzel, Michelle Payne

MEMBERS ABSENT:                         Wally Plahutnik


STAFF PRESENT:                          Bob Miklo, Karen Howard, Sarah Greenwood Hektoen


OTHERS PRESENT:                         John Beasley, Brad Houser, Dan Black, David Kieft,
                                        Don Stalkfleet




RECOMMENDATIONS TO CITY COUNCIL:

The Commission recommended approval of REZ09-00002, an application submitted by the City of
Iowa City for a rezoning from Interim Development (ID-1) zone to General Industrial (I-1) zone for
approximately 100 acres of property located on 420th Street SE, west of Taft Avenue. The vote
was 6-0 (Plahutnik absent).


CALL TO ORDER:

The meeting was called to order at 7:33 p.m. by Chairperson Ann Freerks.


PUBLIC DISCUSSION OF ANY ITEM NOT ON THE AGENDA:

None.


ZONING CODE ITEMS:

Discussion of amendments to the Zoning Code to regulate Drinking Establishments and Alcohol
Sales Oriented Retail Uses and to establish minimum spacing requirements between such uses.

Howard stated that in early January the City Council expressed their concern about the concentration of
bars and liquor stores in the downtown area. City Council asked the staff to draft regulations for the
Planning and Zoning Commission’s consideration requiring a minimum separation between bars and
liquor stores. The regulations require a 500 foot separation between bars and a 1000 foot separation
between liquor stores. These regulations would apply to new bars and liquor stores being established in
the downtown area. Howard said that Staff has created some draft regulations for amending the zoning
code to comply with City Council’s request.

Howard shared a map of the downtown business area which outlined the areas that would be affected by
the new regulations. Other illustrations demonstrated the concentration of drinking establishments and
alcohol retail stores downtown by showing the areas which would separate bars and liquor stores under
the new regulations, and highlighting the overlapping areas that exist currently.
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Howard said that in order to regulate bars and liquor stores, Staff needed to establish a definition of what
a Drinking Establishment is as opposed to a restaurant, theater, etc. that sells alcohol. Staff proposes a
use classification process that would apply to any use for which an application has been filed for a liquor
license or wine or beer permit. Through this process, it would be determined if a new business would fall
into one of two categories: 1) Drinking Establishment, or 2) Alcohol Sales-Oriented Retail Use (liquor
store). Howard said that Staff also created a system to define uses in which alcohol sales are merely an
accessory use to the principal use of the property, e.g., a grocery store such as Hy-Vee, which sells
alcohol but not as its primary purpose.

In order to be classified as a Drinking Establishment, a business would have the following characteristics:
1) the principal activity of the establishment is the preparation, dispensing and consumption of food
and/or beverages; and 2) the establishment is licensed by the State for the sale of alcohol for on-site
consumption; and 3) the establishment is open for business any time between 12 AM and 2 AM.

Howard noted that restaurants that have a liquor license but are not open to the general public after
midnight are not considered Drinking Establishments and are therefore not subject to the separation
requirement. Other establishments such as theaters, bowling alleys, etc., which sell alcohol are not
classified as Drinking Establishments because the principal business is not eating or drinking; as a result,
they are not subject to the separation requirement. Restaurants and bars that are associated with a hotel
or motel are not subject to the requirement as they hold Class B liquor licenses which are issued only to
hotels/motels. Alcohol sales for all of the above uses would be considered an accessory use and
therefore not subject to the separation requirement.

Howard said that Staff has defined Alcohol Sales-Oriented Retail uses as any establishment for which a
Class E liquor license or wine or beer permit has been issued that allows the sale of alcohol or alcoholic
beverages in closed containers for off-premise consumption. In order to determine whether or not those
alcohol sales are a principal part of the business, Staff had to come up with a system for classifying
businesses. If an establishment can show that its income from alcohol sales is less than 25% of gross
yearly income then that establishment qualifies for an accessory alcohol sales certificate and is exempt
from the separation requirement. Businesses must renew this certificate every year at the time their
liquor licenses are renewed.

The proposed regulations state that a Drinking Establishment must be separated by a minimum of 500
feet from any other Drinking Establishment. This regulation would apply in all commercial zones that
currently allow bars.

For Alcohol Sales-Oriented retail uses, liquor stores/convenience stores, staff recommends that the
regulations apply only in the Central Business zones. These establishments must be separated by a
minimum of 1,000 feet. Staff does not recommend requiring the 1,000 foot separation city-wide because
Staff feels the City Council’s main concern was the concentration of liquor stores in the downtown area.
The problem with applying the regulation city-wide would be that every grocery store, convenience store
and gas station in town would then have to go through a fairly onerous process to submit their income
statements to the City each year; which would be a problem both administratively and for business
owners.

Howard pointed out that Staff is recommending that Drinking Establishments not be allowed in the Mixed-
Use or the Commercial Office zones. These zones typically contain or are next to residential areas. To
Staff’s knowledge neither of these zones currently have bars in them.

At their informal meeting, Commissioners had requested a map showing all of the commercial zones that
would be affected by these regulations. Howard shared such a map.

Howard noted that existing businesses would be grandfathered in. If the businesses do not comply with
the 500 or 1,000 foot space requirement they would be considered legally non-conforming and would
have the right to continue in their present use. If the liquor license lapses, is revoked or is discontinued
for a period of one year, or if there are changes to the use such that it no longer meets the requirements
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of a Drinking Establishment or an Alcohol Sales-Oriented Retail use, then the building would be required
to come into a conforming use. For example, if a nonconforming bar was changed into a clothing store, it
would not be able to be converted back into a bar. Once non-conforming uses are changed into
conforming uses, they cannot revert back to the non-conforming use. Non-conforming uses cannot
expand; though the interiors can be renovated, the square footage and the exterior footprint cannot be
increased. Howard noted that these things are true of any non-conforming use, not just in the case of
these specific regulations. However, the regulations are written to exclude sidewalk cafes from the
definition of expansion, so that they would be allowed as long as they met the requirements for sidewalk
cafes.

Miklo noted that in the case of sidewalk cafes there are no guarantees that a Drinking Establishment
could establish one as the City Council considers many factors; however, the exception written into the
regulations is intended not to prevent them.

Freerks asked for clarification on when a use would have to change from non-conforming to conforming.
Howard stated that in the case of suspensions of liquor licenses then the legally non-conforming use
could be continued so long as the use was re-established within the year. She clarified that if a bar
closed and a clothing store opened, then the use would be considered converted after the new use was
established for a period of seven days. Once converted to a conforming use it could not be changed
back into a nonconforming use.

Eastham asked if a liquor license suspension of more than 365 days would constitute a change in use.
Greenwood Hektoen said that state code allows the local authorities to suspend a liquor license for a
period not to exceed one year. She noted that the code does give the City the authority to revoke or
suspend, however, the City Council has a policy of not making those types of determinations and instead
makes a recommendation to the Alcohol and Beverage Division and lets them make the decision. The
goal behind this policy is to remove the politics from any local suspensions. Eastham asked if the State
could suspend a liquor license for more than a year. Greenwood Hektoen said that the State could not
suspend for more than a year; however, the State could revoke the license.

Eastham noted that the definition of a Drinking Establishment included the provision that the business is
open between the hours of 12 and 2 a.m. Eastham asked if it was possible then to establish a bar within
500 feet of another so long as it closes before midnight. Howard said that this would be possible;
however, she said that practically speaking bars generally stay open until 2 a.m., and that she cannot
think of an instance of a bar that closes before midnight. Eastham said that he could not think of an
instance either but that it could come up. Howard said that the goal was to find a system of classification
that would make a clear distinction between a bar and a restaurant and would provide a level of certainty
for both the City and the business owner. Howard said that the proposed definition makes it very clear
whether a business is a Drinking Establishment or not. She said that if someone were to undertake a
new business, they would not want to take the risk of establishing what they believed would be a
restaurant only to find out after 6 months that their percentage of alcohol sales had classified them as a
Drinking Establishment and thus become an illegal use. Howard said using a percentage of sales for the
bars vs. restaurants would make the whole process a lot muddier and less certain. Howard noted that
since most of the problems that occur which are causing concern in the community happen after
midnight, it Is best to use a definition that will focus the regulation on establishments that are truly bars
whose primary business is selling alcohol after midnight.

Eastham said that as he understands it the Drinking Establishment definition does not depend on
percentage of sales. Howard said that is correct. She said that Staff felt that using a percentage of sales
to determine what businesses were Drinking Establishments would not have given enough notice to
people in the process of starting new businesses downtown and would have created administrative
headaches for both the City and the business owners. Howard said the current definition targets the
problem itself and does not require every single restaurant to submit their books and verify their income
every single year.
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Koppes asked if special occasions like wedding receptions and renting out restaurants would be affected
by the 12-2 a.m. requirement. Miklo noted that the policy says “open to the public,” which a wedding
reception presumably would not be. Howard said that city code has a whole section on classification
systems used to determine what is an accessory use and what is a principal use. In the case of the
occasional private party or reception that would cause a restaurant to be open after midnight, the City
could consider that an accessory use.

Payne asked Staff to address the issue of grandfathering in current businesses. Payne asked if under
the current language it was possible for a business to retain its status as legally non-conforming if it had
its liquor license reinstated on the 365th day of suspension. Greenwood Hektoen said she believed so but
would have to check. Howard said that typically suspensions are for short periods of time, and a series of
suspensions is generally handed down prior to revocation. Howard noted that the intent in the non-
conforming chapter of the code is that non-conforming uses will go away over time, and this regulation is
not an exception to that. Greenwood Hektoen said that the way she reads it, if the license is suspended
for a year, the use would have to be brought into conformance. Eastham asked if it was correct that if a
suspension was in place for a year then the use would have to become conforming. Howard said this
was correct.

Freerks asked what the history is of a bar losing its license for a period of more than one year. Howard
said it was extremely rare. Miklo noted that Doug Boothroy, who has worked at the City for 30 years,
recalled only one instance where a bar had its license revoked for a year.

Freerks asked about the administrative and staff time that would be needed to enforce the code. Howard
said she thought that for Drinking Establishments the requirements would not be strenuous. For the
Alcohol Related Retail Sales certificate the staff time would be greater, as would the time required by the
business owner. She noted that the accessory alcohol sales certificate is optional for the business owner,
upon whom the onus of applying lies.

Koppes asked for clarification on the CC-2 and Intensive Commercial zones downtown and whether they
would be affected. Miklo noted that there were still a few pockets of CC-2 zoning south of the downtown
where a liquor store could be opened under these regulations. Howard noted that the Drinking
Establishment requirements would be applied citywide. She said that the intent of the regulations is not
to disallow liquor stores and bars but to reduce the concentration.

Eastham asked Staff to talk a bit about how they determined the separation should be 500 or 1,000 feet.
Miklo said Staff did a considerable amount of research on what other communities across the country do.
Miklo said the distances of 500 and 1,000 feet were pretty typical distances. Miklo said that as liquor
stores are a pretty specialized business, there is not a need for a lot of them. Bars and restaurants tend
to be a little more common than liquor stores, thus their required separation distance is lower. Miklo said
different communities required separation distances that ranged from 250-1,000 feet. Miklo said that
given the pattern of uses already established in our downtown, the distance of 500 feet seemed a good
fit.

Eastham asked if Staff felt that if the 500 foot separation of bars were in effect presently it would allow for
a reasonable number of drinking establishments in the downtown area. Miklo said Staff did not get into
that kind of analysis. Miklo said that Staff looked at what was presently there and then re-examined it in
light of the goal of not increasing that concentration.

There were no further questions for Staff and the public hearing was opened.


John Beasley, 321 E. Market Street, said that he was present on behalf of some property owners in
downtown Iowa City. He said that as he sat at the back of the room listening he was trying to get a sense
of what the Commission intended to do with this proposal. He asked if the Commission was considering
this proposal, just discussing it, or was prepared to make a recommendation to City Council. He said that
the answer to that question would play a role in some of his remarks. Freerks replied that the
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Commission could vote on the matter and make a recommendation or they could vote to continue
discussion at a later date. Freerks said it depends on discussions that take place.

Beasley urged the Commission to take time to sort through the matter, as there are multiple perspectives
to take into consideration. Beasley said that he was present on behalf of landlords as well as bar owners
in the downtown area. He said that before enacting this kind of regulation, the Commission needs to look
at it from all perspectives. Beasley noted that the downtown property owner is not necessarily the bar
owner, and may have an entirely different perspective. Beasley noted that the discussions seem to lump
the property owners and the bar owners together as though they are both “The Drinking Establishment,”
when in fact their interests and perspectives may be quite different. Beasley said that this proposal could
have far-reaching effects on the party that owns the real estate and rents it to the bar establishment.
Beasley said that ultimately the landlord is responsible for the real estate taxes. Beasley asked if any of
the Commissioners had had a chance to sit down and look at the amount of real estate taxes being paid
on some of the properties that have bars in them, and how significantly some of those taxes have
increased in the last four to five years. Beasley said that the taxes on one of his client’s downtown
properties have gone up 13% in the last year. He said that before the Commission makes a
recommendation they need to dissect the matter more fully. Beasley expressed surprise that there were
not more bar owners or property owners present at the meeting because of the large impact this matter
will have on them. Beasley said that this is a big deal. He said that it is an even bigger deal if a landlord
has an empty property that is not currently a bar. He said that not only does that landlord have to find a
new tenant, but the pool of potential tenants is severely affected.

Beasley said that he also would ask the Commission to delay making a recommendation until they had
fully considered how this piece of legislation would work with other legislation under consideration that
governs the City Council’s relationship with the Alcohol and Beverage Division (ABD) and how the
licensing process works. Beasley said the City Council makes a recommendation to the ABD for liquor
license renewals. He said that there is a new piece of legislation under consideration which states that if
the licensee has had more than one PAULA (Possession of Alcohol under the Legal Age) citation in a
minimum of 18 visits by the police department within the last year, then the City Council will recommend
that the ABD not renew the license. Greenwood Hektoen clarified that it was actually an average of one
PAULA per visit by the police department. Beasley said that the point was that the Commission really
needed to understand the interplay and relationship of the City with the ABD and the terms suspension of
license, revocation of license and non-renewal of license and how they fit together. Beasley said that it
was his understanding that if an employee of a bar sells alcohol to an underage person the ABD has what
Beasley terms a “ladder system.” The first offense is an administrative fine to the licensee. For the
second offense within a one or two year period (Beasley was not sure which) a suspension of the license
is levied. The third offense within a three year period would result in a longer suspension, and the fourth
time could receive a revocation. Beasley said that a revocation means that not only is the licensee out of
business, but that premises cannot be licensed to serve alcohol for a period of one year. That bar
owner’s license revocation could thereby permanently disallow the property owner from renting the
property to a bar in the future under the proposed regulations.

Beasley stated that the proposed statute has a lot of implications, is very complicated, and has great
impact on a number of parties. Beasley said that he is not condoning the bad things that have occurred
to prompt this proposal for downtown Iowa City, but he said there is a lot more to this proposal than
meets the eye. He said that he himself is just beginning to get his arms around all of the possible
implications.

Beasley said he would be happy to answer any questions the Commissioners might have for him.
                                                                                                 st
Freerks asked Beasley when he received the proposal. Beasley received the proposal on March 1 . He
said one of the reasons he had come to the meeting was to hear Staff’s perspective on the issue and the
questions the Commission has. He reiterated that the property owner and tenant perspectives on the
matter were not necessarily one and the same.
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Payne asked if Beasley believed that a building that has a Drinking Establishment as its current use today
could be worth more money under this proposal since it already has that use; if it was more valuable as a
result of its legally non-conforming use. Beasley said that anytime a landlord has more options and
opportunities to rent to a greater diversity of uses then the value of the property is greater. Beasley said
that he did believe this would make some properties more valuable because anytime potential uses for
the property are taken off the table, value is lost. Beasley said that the harsh reality of it is that he is
concerned that taking action on the number of bars/restaurants in downtown Iowa City is a good way to
wind up with a lot of “for rent” signs and vacant buildings. Beasley said that he had advised the then-
mayor of Iowa City of this at the time Coral Ridge Mall moved into the area. He said that a bar that is well
run and well-maintained is a good tenant, and that is the facts of the matter. He said that the exorbitant
real estate taxes that come with downtown property can be paid if you have a good bar as a tenant.
Beasley said he is not condoning excessive alcohol use in downtown Iowa City, but he cautioned against
winding up with a bunch of “for rent” signs in the downtown as that leaves a different negative impression
on people (referring to the negative impression the Council fears will be left on people by the sight of too
many bars downtown). Beasley noted how beautiful the College Street Billiards Company was, and how
intricately it was decorated with woodwork. He said that he asks himself who will put that kind of money
into downtown Iowa City if you cannot have a restaurant/bar in the building. He said that legislating
against bars and restaurants can have much more far reaching affects than those intended.

Eastham said that it seems to him that this proposal could in fact reduce the number of bars in the
downtown area. Eastham asked Beasley if he had an opinion as to whether or not the downtown area
should allow for additional bars than what is currently there. Beasley replied that if an individual is willing
to take the risk, invest the time and money and sign a contract with a landlord, then they should be
allowed to do so. Beasley said that this would be a business decision on the part of the bar owner.
Beasley said that at some point, a perspective bar owner will reach the business decision that there are
too many bars downtown to make a profit with a new one. Beasley said that supply and demand will work
itself out. He said that at the point where there are too many bars, the market will take care of the
concentration.

Weitzel asked Beasley what he proposed. He said that if City Council’s directive was incorrect in
pursuing regulatory controls to prevent a concentration of bars and liquor stores he wondered what
Beasley’s clients would propose as a means of preventing concentration. Weitzel said that the city had
already had about five years of waiting to see if the bars would regulate themselves, with no sign of that
actually happening.

Beasley replied that his clients work hard to properly train their help and to monitor who goes in and out of
their establishments. Beasley said that one of his clients has even taken the initiative to go to a 21-only
policy for his establishment. Weitzel said that if that was the case these bar owners would not suffer any
adverse consequences from this legislation. Beasley shared an anecdote with the Commission about
how sometimes the best training and supervision does not necessarily spare a bar owner from receiving a
ticket for serving minors. Beasley said that an establishment had been ticketed for selling alcohol to
someone under the legal age and was going to lose its license for a period of time. Because of the
suspension, a lot of money was at stake. The employee who had served the minor swore that the
individual had presented a legal I.D., but no identification of any kind was found on the person when
searched by police. On the surface, it appeared clear that the establishment had violated the law. Just
before trial, it was learned through eyewitness testimony that the individual who had purchased the
alcohol had possessed a fake I.D. and had discarded it prior to being stopped by the police. In fact, the
establishment had followed the law exactly, and still would have been penalized as though it had broken
the law were it not for the witness who came forward. Beasley said that the problem is that sometimes
bar owners despite their best efforts are penalized for the actions and mistakes of the kids working for
them. Beasley acknowledged that there were in fact bad bar owners out there, but he contended that
most tried hard to do the right thing. He said these regulations are a big deal because the property owner
remains on the hook for $50,000 per year in real estate taxes even if the tenant’s 19 year old employee
made an error or someone pulled a shenanigan. Beasley said he could tell by the questions the
Commission was asking that they would give the matter their full consideration because they were asking
good questions.
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Busard asked how Beasley would feel if the language was changed so that the use remained legally non-
conforming for a year and one day so that the non-conforming use did not go away because of a one-
year suspension. Miklo said that though it was possible to change the language in that way, Staff would
not recommend it. Howard said that every other non-conforming use in the community is held to the
same standard and the bars would receive an extra day if that were done. Greenwood-Hektoen said that
it would be problematic to treat bars differently than other nonconforming uses.

Beasley said he felt it was very important to look at the impact of the proposal on not just the existing bars
downtown, but also on the property owners who do not have existing bars. Beasley offered the example
of a property owner who rented to a T-shirt shop. If the T-shirt shop goes out of business and the
property owner needs to find a new tenant, that property owner cannot rent to a bar or liquor store under
the proposal as it is currently written. Freerks said she thought the Commission understood that dynamic.

Beasley said that when he first heard about this he called the ABD in an effort to understand the
differences between license revocation and denial or renewals, and how the ramifications of this proposal
on those different scenarios.

Howard said that if the license was revoked the property would lose its legally non-conforming use
designation as a revocation means that the premises may not be licensed for a period of one year.

Greenwood Hektoen stated that Iowa Code 123.39 states that when a liquor license, wine, or beer permit
is suspended after a hearing as a result of violations of the code, the premises shall not be relicensed to
another person until the suspension has been terminated or the time of the suspension has occurred or
90 days has gone by, whichever occurs first.

Eastham asked if the provisions for revocation are different from those for suspension in terms of how
they affect the premises. Eastham asked if it was correct that a license holder who has had their license
revoked cannot obtain another license. Greenwood Hektoen said that in order to get a license a person
must be of “good moral character,” and that she imagined that the definition of what that means may
contain some prohibition for those who have been revoked in the past. Howard said the relevant
implication for revocation is that it affects the property. Howard said that even without the proposed
revocation no one lets the matter get to revocation because it has serious repercussions for the property
owner as well as the business owner. Miklo said that for someone’s license to be revoked the offenses
have to be egregious. Miklo said that given the Council’s directions, if someone is operating a business
in such a way that their license is revoked perhaps there should not be a bar in that location.

Eastham said that he thinks Council’s direction is to reduce the number of bars. He asked if that
necessarily meant that the Council intended to prevent landlords and property owners from having a
reasonable opportunity to rent their space to a business that is going to be a bar. Miklo and Howard said
that from their discussions with the Council it seemed clear that Council actually wants to see a reduction
in the number of bars downtown.

Freerks cautioned that the Commission was still in public hearing, and that she wanted to make sure
there was adequate time for public comment before embarking on discussion.

Brad Houser, 3693 Johnston Way, North Liberty, said that he has been involved in real estate in the area
for a number of years. Houser said that he found it amazing that his downtown property will be devalued
by this proposal but that there was no requirement on the City’s part to notify him as a property owner of
the actions they were discussing. Houser said that if he were developing a piece of property he would be
required to notify nearby property owners whereas the City can simply put a “graveyard” ad buried in the
Press Citizen as their notification process. Houser said that he believes that the City’s notification
process should be more comprehensive. Houser said he would not have known about the meeting if
someone had not called him at 2 o’clock that afternoon. He said he did not think this was a fair situation.
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Houser said that he had grown up in Iowa City, and that he could not see that he himself had not been in
downtown bars prior to coming of legal age. He said that the fact that many other people could say the
same thing did not make it right, but it did show that it happens.

Houser said that it is generally not the landlord that has control over the issue of underage drinkers in
bars downtown. Bar owners do the best they can, but sometimes there are fake I.D.s involved which
complicates the matter. Houser pointed out that for the minor involved, the fine is much stiffer for
possessing a fake I.D. then it is for PAULA, so there is no incentive for the individual to admit the use of a
fake I.D.

Houser said that these regulations penalize the bar owner, the landlord and the door-man for something
that they cannot necessarily control. Best of intentions, best training, and best situations can still lead to
mistakes. Houser said that if you look around any office and terminated everyone who made a mistake,
the room would get pretty empty pretty quickly.

Houser said that as a landlord he cannot control what his tenant does. In enacting these regulations,
Houser said, the City would be asking him to do that and that should not be a consideration he has to
have. Houser said he that if he signs a lease with a tenant, he is bound by it. He said it would be nice if
he could put something in his lease saying that because he as property owner is responsible for the
actions of the tenant, the tenant will also be responsible for his actions, but he does not think that would
be possible to do. Houser said that until a lease comes up for renewal, a landlord’s hands are tied as to
their selection of tenant.

Houser said that these regulations devalue downtown properties. Houser said that properties are bricks
and mortar and as such have a certain inherent value; beyond that, their value is based on the leases
they hold. The value of a property is higher if the business in it is able to generate high revenues,
regardless of the business type.

Houser said that in all likelihood a clothing store would not be able to pay the same rent as a bar or liquor
store (if the non-conforming use were void), as a result, his property taxes would have to go down
(although they would not at first).

Houser said these regulations require him to police his tenants, and he cannot be the police.

Eastham said that he felt he was hearing two different stories. He said that on the one hand this
ordinance provides that a Drinking Establishment can remain a Drinking Establishment even if it is
separated by less than 500 feet from another Drinking Establishment unless it changes use, or its liquor
license lapses, is revoked, or is otherwise discontinued. Eastham said that his understanding is that it
almost never happens that a license is revoked or suspended for a period of one year. Eastham said that
he understood Houser to be saying that he was concerned that a license could be lapsed, revoked or
discontinued for a period of more than one year. Houser said that Eastham was correct in a sense. The
regulations are themselves putting that possibility in play; although everyone can sit there and say that it
will not happen, the landlord is at the mercy of the bar owner making sure it does not happen, with no
control themselves. Houser said it is also an issue for him that he would not be able to expand under the
non-conforming use codes.

Eastham said the expansion issue is intended to prevent any further Drinking Establishments in the
downtown area. Eastham said that while this is what it was intended to do, he was not sure that it
actually achieved this. Eastham said the question he has now is what is going to happen to existing
businesses as time moves forward. Houser said he agreed with Beasley that the market would take care
of itself to a certain extent.

Weitzel asked how this particular ordinance would be different from any other regulatory ordinances on
alcohol. Houser said he did not claim to be an expert on alcohol, and he did not even know how to
answer that. He said he was looking at the ordinance from a landlord’s standpoint. Weitzel asked if it
was not the case that the trend over the last ten years has been toward bars. Houser said he was not
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sure that was entirely true. He noted that Old Capitol Mall could easily have reverted to bars, but did not.
He said that he would like to see the statistics supporting that assumption. Freerks asked if the number
of bar and liquor licenses have actually increased over the last several years. Miklo said he thought staff
could get those numbers from the City Clerk. Howard said that one of the things the City Council referred
to when discussing this matter was the market study that was done downtown. Their focus became firmly
fixed on the concentration of this one particular use in the downtown area, and the problems it could be
causing in the market. The consultant recommended limiting the number of bars and restaurants
downtown to open up space to other types of businesses. The hope is that to will help to stimulate the
economy ad influence the number and types of residents who choose to live downtown.

Houser said that if there are tenants that want to rent downtown that are not bars but can pay the same
amount of rent, then that is fine. Houser said that presently there is a lot of change going on in Iowa
City’s economic situation, with many people sitting on the fence. Houser said that the uncertain times
and a change of such magnitude are something that should be considered in light of one another.

Houser reiterated that his frustration with the process is that he just found out about the proposal and the
meeting four or five hours ago. Houser urged the Commission to at least wait on the issue to allow more
input from the public.

Dan Black, 1241 Flagstaff, spoke on behalf of Midwest One Bank, which manages commercial real estate
through their trust department. Black said he represents landlords and property owners in the downtown
area. Black echoed the sentiment that he did not have much notice on this issue either, although he
prides himself on trying to keep up with what goes on in town. He said that he did not know anything
about it until he received a call at work two days ago. Black said that Howard had kindly brought him up
to speed on the proposal.

Black said that he would not address things that had already been addressed, but that he wanted to touch
on a couple of things that strike him. Black said that it seems like an unfair proposal because it creates
an instant monopoly on licenses, because no more will be issued in the downtown area. Anyone with a
license presently could have an unfair advantage and financial windfall immediately bestowed upon them.

Black said that the inability to expand a business is another very troubling issue to him. He said that the
notion flies in the face of free market enterprise. Black concurred with others who had suggested that
the free market will take care of this problem. Black said that the last two commercial leases he wrote for
the downtown area were for a deli and a clothing store.

Black expressed concern that this particular solution would not really solve the problems it intended to
address, namely late-night alcohol related issues. He said that he sees it doing very little to address
those problems. Black suggested that better ways to address those problems would be to enact a 21-
only law and step up enforcement. He said these would be much more effective in addressing the
alcohol related problems.

Eastham said he had not considered the idea that this particular ordinance might actually create a
monopoly of liquor license holders in the downtown areas. Eastham asked if Black was saying that even
if he were ultra-responsible as a bar owner he would not be able to open a bar in the downtown area
because he would have to buy a license from an existing establishment. Black said this was correct. He
noted that he could not go open a bar on the 100 block of Iowa Avenue under these regulations because
there are existing establishments within 500 feet, and this creates a monopoly for the existing license
holders. Eastham said that he understood Black to be saying that the only way to establish a new bar
would be to approach an existing establishment to purchase their license, but that the price of the license
would now be exorbitantly high. Black said it just seems to be an uneven playing field and that he cannot
think of any other types of businesses that would be approached this way. Black said that other
businesses are not limited in other zones, and that he understood the reality of some of the alcohol-
related problems, but that this proposal did not seem the best one.
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Koppes asked if the regulations were passed it would mean that all bars downtown would become non-
conforming. Miklo said that it would. Payne noted that a bar could become conforming if the bars within
500 feet of it went out of business.

David Kieft, 2500 Rushmore, represented the University of Iowa, saying that he had a somewhat different
perspective than other speakers. The University has been working with the City for months on this and
other issues, he said, and the issue has been well-publicized since December. He said that there is no
right to hold a liquor license, and that it is a privilege which comes with great responsibility. He said that
unless a bar offends multiple times, the issue of PAULAs and suspensions will not come into play.
Without violations, there is no possibility of revocation. He contended that the same establishments are
found to be violation month after month after month. These regulations send a very strong message to
repeat offenders that they need to get their act together. While he understands the concerns of the
landlords present, he said that he felt Council was looking at the matter from a perspective of trying to
control excess drinking in the city. He noted that it is not just University of Iowa students that drink in
downtown bars, but the youth of the city in general. He said that some Iowa Citians do not even come to
downtown Iowa City any longer because of the culture of alcohol that is down there. It is the culture of
alcohol that Council wishes to address, and this is one small measure to do so. Over time, he said, this
measure will help address the concentration of bars in the downtown area.

Busard asked if it was not a part of the Comprehensive Plan to create a downtown with a mixture of uses
that is more hospitable to non-student populations. Miklo said that it was a general goal of the
Comprehensive Plan and for the Strategic Plan for downtown; although the wording in the documents is
different, it is the general direction outlined in the plans. Miklo said the idea is to have downtown be an
around-the-clock business district with some businesses open during the day and not just evening
businesses.

Don Stalkfleet, 3105 Dubuque Street, said that he wished to respond to something that had been said.
Stalkfleet said he had lived in Iowa City for 55 years, and owns businesses downtown. He said that he
did not hear anything about this ordinance until Friday morning. He said that he reads the Press Citizen
every day, watches the City Council meetings and does all he can to be informed but still heard nothing
about this ordinance. Stalkfleet felt that as a property owner it would have been appropriate for the City
to send him and other downtown property owners something notifying them of the ordinance so that they
had a chance to respond to it.

Stalkfleet said he felt very confident that the Commission would do its job well, but that he really felt he
should have been notified. He suggested delaying making a decision on the matter until property owners
had had adequate time to respond. Stalkfleet asked if anything had ever been sent out.

Miklo said that nothing had been sent to individual property owners. He said there had been several
newspaper articles and some television news coverage of the issue. Freerks asked if it was typical for
the City to send out individual notice to property owners for zoning code amendments. Howard said that
this amendment to the zoning regulations applies to every commercial property owner in the city, and as
a result no special notices were sent to individual property owners. Miklo noted that the issue was
covered by the local media and that concerned citizens can subscribe to receive notifications of agendas
for different Boards and Commissions.

The public hearing was closed.
                                                      th
Koppes motioned to defer the matter until the March 19 Commission meeting.
Eastham seconded.

Freerks noted that the March 19th meeting is during spring break so it might be wise to schedule an extra
meeting the following week or wait until the April 2nd meeting.

Koppes amended her motion, suggesting deferment until the April 2nd meeting.
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Page 11 

Eastham seconded.

Freerks invited discussion from the Commission.

Koppes asked what happens to service clubs like the Moose Lodge with these regulations. Howard
replied that clubs are not open to the general public. If there is a membership then the regulations would
not apply.
Koppes said that she feels she has a lot of unanswered questions on this matter. She said she is not
sure that the regulations treat everyone equally across the city, especially in regard to liquor stores.

Busard said that zoning is not about making money for property owners but about successfully managing
growth in cities. Busard said that he felt the Commission was getting “wrapped around the axle” about
individual property owners when it is really about the city as a whole.

Payne said that one of her questions was what amount of property tax is currently generated by those
establishments, and whether the amount would stay the same if in the future the uses all became
conforming. Payne wondered if the property taxes and values would be lowered because clothing stores,
for example, could not generate the same income as a bar. Greenwood Hektoen cautioned the
Commission to avoid those types of issues as the Planning and Zoning Commission’s considerations
should be more focused on what the best use of the land would be and how it fits in with the
Comprehensive Plan. She said she felt it would be more appropriate for City Council to examine such
considerations. Miklo advised that there would be a lot of speculation and assumptions in any answer
that was provided to Payne’s question.

Weitzel asked Greenwood Hektoen to address whether or not all due process and notification has been
followed. Greenwood Hektoen said that all proper notice had been given.

Busard said that in terms of notice the Commission has done everything to the letter of the law. He said
he saw no reason for a deferral. Miklo noted that there were probably more articles about this issue than
any other recent zoning issue considered by the Commission in the Press Citizen, Gazette, and Des
Moines Register.

Weitzel said that he was mindful of the consultant’s study which indicated that a lot of people shun
downtown because of the party atmosphere. Weitzel said he did not see the need for more time either.

Eastham said he was in favor of deferment. He said more often than not the Commission takes more
than one meeting to decide zoning code changes and he sees no reason not to do so in this case. He
said that the Commission has heard often from citizens who are dissatisfied with the City’s notification
processes, which doesn’t seem to be particularly effective. Eastham said nothing is lost in considering
the matter further, and much is gained in hearing the perspectives of others.

Freerks agreed that more time should be taken. Freerks said that this does not mean that there is not a
problem here that needs to be addressed. Freerks said there is clearly a huge problem in the community
with over consumption of alcohol and the City Council has asked the Commission to work on that in their
capacity. Freerks said that it is the problem of over consumption of alcohol that the Council is really trying
to address. Freerks said that ideas are talked about from time to time to solve this problem, and that this
is one idea being talked about now. Freerks said that underage drinking and the way it affects the
downtown is what the Commission is considering in relation to the Comprehensive Plan and the ways in
which they want the community to grow. She said that she is interested in hearing some of the numbers
that had been requested during the course of the meeting in order to clarify things in her mind. Freerks
said she was glad to have had the perspective of all the public that had spoken, and that she thinks more
discussion is needed. The issue is complex and has many considerations, however, she noted, no one
else is offering better ideas and she would ask the public present to think about that and bring forth their
own solutions.
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Greenwood Hektoen noted that the affect of a revocation on the licensee is that they cannot get another
license for two years; the affect on the premises is that it cannot be licensed for one year.

Eastham asked if this meant effectively that the owner of that building could not have a licensed drinking
establishment for one year. Greenwood Hektoen said this was correct: that address could not be
relicensed for one year.

Payne said that this would mean the use of the building would have to be changed if there was a
revocation. Greenwood Hektoen said this was correct.

Koppes clarified that a legally non-conforming use can remodel so long as the footprint of the building is
not changed.

Weitzel said that he had been persuaded by the discussion of others and could now see that a deferral
was in order.
                                                                                                                     nd
A vote was taken and the motion to defer the matter until the April 2                                                     meeting was passed 5-1
(Busard voting against deferral; Plahutnik absent).


REZONING ITEM:

REZ09-00002: Discussion of an application submitted by City of Iowa City for a rezoning from
Interim Development (ID-1) zone to General Industrial (I-1) zone for approximately 100 acres of
property located on 420th Street SE, west of Taft Avenue.

This property was recently before the Commission for annexation. The intention with the Interim
Development (ID-1) zone is that the property is intended for industrial use at such time as the City has
extended services to the property. At this time, the City has had interest expressed by an industrial use
for the property – especially the property that surrounds 420th Street south of the railroad—so the City
wishes to move forward with extending services to the property and rezoning it for industrial development.
The City has plans to extend water and sewer services to the property this fiscal year, as well as to
improve the road. The city has hired a consultant to come up with a subdivision plan for this property
giving maximum access to the rail-line and the arterial street system.

Freerks asked if there were questions for Staff.

Eastham asked if the City would in fact improve all of 420th Street from its intersection with Highway 6 to
the eastern boundaries of the current city limit. Howard said this was correct. Eastham asked if this
improvement would occur before any land in the area is sold to an industrial user. Howard said she was
not sure it would be done before it was sold but that it would be done prior to opening for business.

The public hearing was opened.

As no one wished to speak the public hearing was closed.

Busard motioned to approve the rezoning.

Weitzel seconded.
                                                                                                                                                                th
Eastham asked if the City would go ahead and rent for agricultural purposes the parcel south of 420
Street. Howard said she did not know. Miklo said that there has some discussion about it, but that it is a
portion they are hoping to develop.

Weitzel said he felt this rezoning met the goals for the Comprehensive Plan and intended to vote in favor
of it.
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March 5, 2009 ‐ Formal                                                                                                                                                                        
Page 13 

Freerks said she too felt the rezoning was in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan and that she
believed it would be a nice addition to the city.

A vote was taken and the motion carried 6-0 (Plahutnik absent).


COUNTY REZONING ITEMS:

CZ09-00001: Discussion of an application submitted by Michael Furman for a rezoning of 40 acres
from County Agriculture (A) to County Residential (R3) zone located at 3051 Buchmayer Bend NE.
The applicant has requested an indefinite deferral.

Weitzel motioned to defer.

Koppes seconded.

A vote was taken and the motion carried 5-0 (Busard abstained; Plahutnik absent).


CONSIDERATION OF MEETING MINUTES: February 2 & February 5, 2009:

Eastham motioned to accept the minutes.

Busard seconded.

The minutes were approved on a vote of 6-0 (Plahutnik absent).


ELECTION OF OFFICERS:

Freerks said that this would be postponed until the next meeting to make sure everyone is present.


OTHER:

Miklo noted that Commissioners had received a survey from the Human Rights Commission. Miklo said
that if Commissioners had a chance to fill it out this evening, and envelope would be passed to collect
them.

Miklo provided a copy to all Commissioners of the Planning Commissioner’s Journal which talks about the
planning of school locations.


ADJOURNMENT:

Payne motioned to adjourn.

Eastham seconded.

The meeting was adjourned on a 6-0 vote at 9:20 p.m. (Plahutnik absent).
                                                   Iowa City Planning & Zoning Commission
                                                              Attendance Record
                                                                     2009


                                                             FORMAL MEETING
                Term
   Name        Expires   1/15   2/5       3/5
 J. Busard      05/11     X      X         X
C. Eastham      05/11     X      X         X
A. Freerks      05/13     X      X         X
E. Koppes       05/12    O/E     X         X
 M. Payne       05/10     X     O/E        X
W Plahutnik     05/10     X      X        O/E
 T. Weitzel     05/13     X      X         X



                                                            INFORMAL MEETING
                                 Term
                    Name        Expires     1/12     2/2    3/2
                 J. Busard       05/11      O/E       X      X
                C. Eastham       05/11        X       X      X
                 A. Freerks      05/13        X       X      X
                 E. Koppes       05/12      O/E       X      X
                 M. Payne        05/10        X       X      X
                W. Plahutnik     05/10        X       X      X
                 T. Weitzel      05/13      O/E       X      X


Key:
X = Present
O = Absent
O/E = Absent/Excused

				
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