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City Council to vote on cottage status

BY BILL COONEY | JANUARY 20, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa City City Council will consider landmark status Tuesday evening for the two remaining Dubuque Street cottages, and local officials are unsure about the possible outcome.

“We’re required to hold a public meeting now that the Historic Preservation Commission, the Zoning Commission, and the State Historical Society have said these cottages are historical,” Mayor Pro Tem Susan Mims said.

The cottages were built in the middle of the 19th century and were originally working-class homes. Most recently, they have housed local businesses.

Ted Pacha, the owner of the cottages, was unavailable for comment on Monday night. Pacha previously had told The Daily Iowan his intent is to rezone the property and sell it.

The City Council voted 4-3 against having a public hearing on the cottages on Dec. 9.

The vote was before the issue of the cottages had been brought before the Historic Preservation Commission, the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the State Historical Society.

The designation passed through the two commissions and the society, which prompts a review by the City Council, despite the previous vote.

However, Mims said the council must take into account a broader range of issues. Those issues range from property owner’s right to economic impact in the community, which other public bodies may not consider.

At the public hearing today, input will be available to the council that wasn’t available at the previous vote, Councilor Rick Dobyns said.

He said the opinions of organizations that passed a resolution on the issue would be available for councilors to review.

The meeting marks the first consideration by the council for the landmark designation for the cottages.

The decision made today is not binding; for landmark status to be adopted, the council must approve it two additional times.

“The demolition of this cottage was a huge loss, but it doesn’t make the other two any less significant,” said Alicia Trimble, the executive director of the Friends of Historic Preservation.

That group submitted the application to rezone the cottages as historic landmarks.

The application went before the Historic Preservation Commission on Dec. 11 and the Planning and Zoning Commission on Dec. 18. Both voted to recommend local historic landmark status to the cottages.

Trimble said mansions and large homes often get landmark status, but smaller structures, such as the Dubuque Street cottages, are often overlooked because of their size.

“This is some of the last working-class housing in Iowa City, and it must be preserved for the sake of history and culture,” she said.


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