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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 22, 2017

Henry County approves new zoning for Mount Union

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News | May 02, 2017

MT. PLEASANT (GTNS) – Henry County supervisors put their final stamp of approval Thursday morning on creating zoning districts in the former City of Mount Union.

The board, after some debate, approved the third and final reading and adopted an ordinance which creates five zoning classifications in Mount Union. Prior to the unincorporation of the community on March 8, the entire town was zoned A-1 or agriculture.

A red flag was raised by Bob Stott, who owns several residential lots in the town and also has a salvage yard inside the city limits. While Stott’s main salvage yard is now zoned I-1, which allows for such, two of his residential lots are now R-2 or residential. Stott said he wanted the lots zoned so he could store salvage cars on them. However, R-2 zoning prohibits it.

Stott claimed he already had a truck parked on one of the lots, so it should have been grandfathered in as a salvage yard. Joe Buffington, county director of planning and zoning, disagreed. “One licensed vehicle does not make it a salvage yard in my opinion.”

Buffington said that if the lots in question had vehicles on them, the lots would have been grandfathered in. “If it [lot] is used as one [salvage] now, it can be still used as one. If it isn’t, it can’t be [under the new zoning].”

By rezoning the lots to R-2, Stott claimed the county “is taking away something I am using and planning to use.”

Mt. Pleasant attorney Rande McAllister appeared on behalf of Stott and said, “The planning and zoning board can’t arbitrarily wave a magic wand and change it. You are taking property away from the property owner.”

Supervisor Gary See said he backs decisions by the county planning and zoning commission. “Unless I feel a planning and zoning decision is deeply flawed, I am not going against. They [board members] are volunteers who came forward. …I intend to vote for the recommendation in front of us.”

Stott’s recourse, Buffington said, would be an appeal to the county board of adjustment.

Sarah Berndt, county coordinator of disability services and general assistance director, in her monthly report told supervisors that legislation passed during the 2018 session of the Iowa Legislature sets a maximum per capita on mental health funds that can be levied across the region.

Berndt said the cap should not impact the Southeast Iowa Link, the mental-health region which includes Henry County. “We have been fiscally responsible and I think we will be in good shape with our [mental health] levy and be able to maintain the services we have. We probably won’t change anything.”

She also noted that by the year 2020, the funding surplus in mental health regions with a population of over 100,000 (SEIL’s region population is approximately 150,000) will be limited to 20 percent of its gross expenditures. “We have had too large a balance (in the mental health account) the whole time we have been in the region,” she remarked.

The supervisors also approved the continuation of a $500 monthly contribution to The Fellowship Cup.

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