Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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December 7, 2008

Sullivan’s Salvos 12/2/08

I simply do not have the words to express my sorrow for colleague Sally Stutsman and her family on the tragic loss of her son Mike. Sophie May, Jessica, Roger, and Sally are in my every prayer.

The Johnson County Planning and Zoning Department has been very busy lately. The Board of Supervisors will soon address several important P&Z issues.

First up is the phasing of the County growth area. History buffs may recall that there was quite a battle over phasing in the years 2001 and 2002. The compromise that was adopted at the time limited almost all growth to a specific area of the county broadly defined as the North Corridor. I am one of many people who feel this area is so large that it defeats the purpose of defining a growth area.

The Board recently spent a couple work sessions discussing changes to this phasing. P&Z staff drew up a map that kept the growth areas closer to the areas that are already zoned residential. A majority (including myself) decided to move forward with this plan.

Some Board members want to limit the areas that are available for residential development; others feel residential development is OK anytime, anywhere. The opinions of the public are all over the map.

Personally, I think it makes sense to keep building houses where the ground is already zoned residential. Otherwise, we begin using up farmland. Even marginal farmland (aka pasture) is carrying a big price tag right now. Farmers should not have to compete with developers for land when there is already land zoned and available for development.

Obviously, if at some point, the growth area gets completely built out, the Board may need to consider rezonings. Until such time, I think this plan makes sense.

In addition, the very reason we have zoning is to mitigate the conflicts that are inherent in different types of land use. Farmers typically run into problems when expensive homes encroach on their operations; similarly, people with expensive homes frequently find farming operations to be a nuisance. Zoning allows us to try to keep these conflicting land uses separate.

If you feel that anyone should be able to build anywhere at any time, you are just inviting the very problems zoning was created to solve.

If you care at all about this issue, please share your thoughts with the Board.

Second on our list is the Chip Seal policy. In a proposed change of policy, Johnson County would allow landowners to pay for chip seal treatments in front of their properties.

This has long been a sore spot for Secondary Roads maintenance people. It causes them more work, and there are always problems with people who disagree with the decisions of the County Engineer. Others simply refuse to pay after year one, creating a messy section of road. Then there are those areas where you have lots of homes… what if every other house wants it? What if neighbors disagree?

On the other hand, dust is perhaps the biggest quality of life issue facing rural residents. I have had over a dozen people tell me they would take advantage of this if it were allowed. I am certain there are others with whom I have not spoken. And since the landowner is paying, allowing chip seal really doesn’t cost the county anything.

The Board weighed both sides of this issue, and decided to give privately funded chip seals a chance. Hopefully, we have adequately protected the county interests. Time will tell if this change in policy is a good thing; I support giving it a try.

Again, if you care at all about this issue, please share your thoughts with the Board.

Finally, the Board recently gave P&Z the go ahead for making public a map that delineates all the public hunting ground in Johnson County. This is a frequently asked question, and should provide an important service to our hunters. Again, we need to do our best to accommodate conflicting uses of land.

If you have questions or comments on these or any zoning issues, contact the Board of Supervisors at 356-6000 and let them know what you think!

DID YOU KNOW? You can sign up for E-mail updates from the Johnson County departments of your choice. You can get agendas, minutes, meeting notices, policy changes, and much more. See to sign up.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

"Sullivan’s Salvos" is sent once per week to any interested party. It will give a brief update on issues of interest to Johnson County residents.

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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