Metro briefs

BY DI STAFF | MARCH 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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Man allegedly steals more than $2,000 worth of items

Authorities have accused a local man of stealing more than $2,000 worth of property.

Matthew Griffin, 29, was charged Aug. 25, 2012, with second-degree theft and third-degree burglary. He was also charged March 20 with possession of a controlled substance.

According to an Iowa City police complaint, Griffin was reportedly caught fleeing from a burglary at roughly 3:24 p.m. The victim predicted Griffin’s escape route and caught him standing near Market Street with property stolen from her house. Griffin accidently dropped his wallet before running away.

Two empty beer cans and a receipt from John’s Grocery were found on the victim’s porch before the burglary was discovered. Griffin was caught on video purchasing the beer at John’s Grocery prior to the burglary. The victim identified Griffin in a photo lineup.

Additional evidence included the defendant using his ID at the grocery store prior to the burglary.

The stolen property is valued at $2,250.

According to a Coralville police complaint, Griffin was placed under arrest for other charges, and a search of his vehicle revealed a baggy containing a green plant police believed to be marijuana.

Griffin reportedly said it was his.

Second-degree theft and third-degree burglary are Class-D felonies. Possession of a controlled substance is a serious misdemeanor.

— by Stacey Murray

Council to consider streetscape plan

Plans to improve downtown Iowa City may become a reality.

The Iowa City City Council will vote on adopting the Iowa City Downtown and Pedestrian Mall Streetscape Plan on Tuesday.

Planning for the streetscape plan began in 2013, and the process involved numerous stakeholders, as well as the public. The plan establishes a vision for future improvements, rather than committing the council to any particular project, according to a letter sent from Geoff Fruin, the assistant to the city manager.

The plan includes several “quick start” projects, Fruin said, which will be funded by a $1 million line item in the fiscal 2015 budget for downtown-improvement projects. These projects include improvements to the Pedestrian Plaza and Black Hawk Mini Park.

In addition to these projects, the city will use the plan to guide future investments and development downtown.

— by Daniel Seidl

Council may ease expansion restrictions for drinking establishments

Some restrictions for nonconforming drinking establishments in Iowa City may be loosened by the City Council.

The council will vote on an ordinance amending the zoning code to change the definition of enlargement/expansion on Tuesday.

Nonconforming drinking establishments are those in which alcohol is served that don’t comply with the required separation distance between drinking establishments. One of the restrictions put on these nonconforming establishments is that they can’t be enlarged or expanded.

The amendment the council will vote on would change the definition of enlargement/expansion so that any expansion to a commercial kitchen that doesn’t increase maximum occupancy load wouldn’t be considered expansion.

These changes could increase the ability of nonconforming establishments to serve food.

— by Daniel Seidl

Council to vote on UI property again

The City Council will vote on Tuesday on a second consideration of two ordinances rezoning two properties to be used by the University of Iowa.

Though second consideration of the two ordinances is on the agenda, a staff request for expedited action means the ordinances may be approved and adopted at the meeting.

The first of the two ordinances would rezone 1.45 acres of property located west of Clinton Street and south of Burlington Street from central business support (CB-5) to institutional public (P-2) and acknowledge the UI’s ownership of the property. It will be the site of the new UI music facility.

The second ordinance would rezone .54 acres of property located at 109 River St. from neighborhood stabilization residential (RNS-20) to P-2 and acknowledge the UI’s ownership of the property. The property will be used for the new UI art facility.

— by Daniel Seidl

Council may tweak entertainment-venue exception

Confusion on a current exemption may lead to a clarification of the 21-ordinance.

The City Council will vote on a first consideration of an ordinance that would refine the entertainment-venue exception of the 21-ordinance.

The ordinance would clarify that the city could deny an entertainment-exception application under the same circumstance that the business could lose their exemptions. These circumstances include serving alcohol to an underage person more than once in a five-year period, as well as when continued operation of the business would be detrimental to residents.

This clarification could also lead to the denial of the pending application of the Summit, which has had two sales to underage charges in the past year.

The ordinance would also narrow the window in which an establishment could have a sale-to-underage charge. The period would be changed to the previous five years at the time the application is submitted, rather than any five-year period in the business’ history.

The change may encourage establishments to change their practices rather than being permanently disqualified.

Under the new change, the definition of “DJ” would also be clarified. Currently, DJs are not considered performers. However, this is not meant to affect “producers” who play electronic drum machines, which could be considered instruments. The clarification will update the definition to only those who play recorded songs.

— by Daniel Seidl

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