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City Council will decide on public hearing

BY CORY PORTER | DECEMBER 09, 2014 5:00 AM

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The fate of three properties on South Dubuque Street will be in the hands of Iowa City city councilors today, as they will decide during a special meeting whether to hold a public hearing on the matter.

If a public hearing is held, it will be on Jan. 6, and it would prevent the buildings from being demolished for possibly up to 60 days.

Councilor Susan Mims said the meeting today would feature a rundown of parties from both sides of the debate.

“We will get input from those people who want a public meeting, in terms of looking at those properties from a historical perspective, and I assume that we will hear from the property owner and maybe others who feel that we should not,” she said.

John Yapp of the Development Services Department said the city has received applications for rezoning, historic preservation, and demolition  for the three properties.

“There was a rezoning application for the properties several months ago, and our department processed that application, which has been withdrawn,” he said. “Our department has received a historic-landmark application for the properties, and the property owner has also submitted a demolition permit for the structures,”

Alicia Trimble, the executive director of the Friends of Historic Preservation, contracted Shanna Duggan of Morning Star Studio on Nov. 24 to do a second analysis of the properties.

“Planning and Zoning also thought a second opinion would be a good idea, and since the city is usually cash-strapped, they asked Friends of Historic Preservation to go ahead and fund that structural engineer,” Trimble said.

Trimble said the second report deemed the properties structurally sound.

For the meeting today, Trimble said, she wants to argue for the historical value of the properties.

“I hope to go in there and ask them to hold a public hearing, which will put a moratorium on the possible demolition of the cottages, because they are really historically significant structures to Iowa City,” she said.

Will Ingles, the owner of the Book Shop, one of the businesses housed in the buildings, said the city should trust its own past actions.

“I hope that the city will accept the wisdom of the people on its staff who said that these three cottages should be preserved forever,” Ingles said. “Why wouldn’t they listen to that?”

He also said the motives of the initial inspection are obvious.

“There’s just nothing wrong with these places, and the only claim that has ever been made that they’re not perfectly sound has come from the mouthpiece of somebody who wants to tear it down in order to make some money; the city should not listen to that,” he said.


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