Iowa City City Council rejects rezoning request for College-Gilbert lot

BY NICK HASSETT | MAY 15, 2013 5:00 AM

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A request to change the zoning on the lot of a proposed high-rise building failed before the Iowa City City Council on Tuesday evening.

The council voted 5-2 against the College/Gilbert rezoning request for the lot that has been approved for the Moen Group’s Chauncey building, with Councilors Jim Throgmorton and Michelle Payne being the only affirming votes. The request would have rezoned the lot from a Public (P) to Central Business Support Zone (CB-5), effectively blocking the development’s height.

CB-5 zoning allows up to 75-foot buildings. As is, the Chauncey development would need to seek CB-10 zoning, which has essentially no height limit.

The rezoning request also went before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission on April 18, where community members filled the seats of the council chamber to voice their opinions on the measure. Ultimately, that request was also denied by a 5-2 vote.

“What we’ll end up with [on the site], none of us know,” Councilor Susan Mims said. “But at this point to limit it to a CB-5 would be premature.”

Rockne Cole, one of the co-applicants of the rezoning request, said the council had lost the public’s trust when it approved the Chauncey development in January.

“Quite frankly, public trust in this council is at an all-time low,” he said. “You can see why members of the community are shocked; no one saw this coming.”

Mark McCallum, another co-applicant, put the issue in a different way.

“Let’s be honest about this: this is planning on steroids,” he said. “This is going to be the tipping point for the future development. You put a 20-story building in this neighborhood, you create a new center point for downtown.”

Throgmorton thought other sites would have been a better use for the development.

“There are at least two great locations downtown that are already zoned CB-10; one thing I wonder is why this particular kind of development wasn’t proposed for one of those sites,” he said.

Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek said without a matching proposal for the rezoning, it was hard to approve a rezoning.

“When deciding whether to proceed with CB-5, I think that’s insufficient,” he said, referring to the rezoning request. “It needs to come with a plan to be reacted to.”

Much of the community input on the measure focused on the plot as a transitional area between zones, but Councilor Terry Dickens thought it was important to see it as a part of downtown.

“I don’t see it as much of a transitional neighborhood,” he said. “I see it as an extension of the downtown.”

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