Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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July 17, 2015

Sullivan’s Salvos     7/21/15

In this edition:

*ADA Celebration
*Bye Bye BJ!
*Boss Hogg Politics
*Colangelo - Newport Road
*Did You Know?

         RAGBRAI stops in Coralville on Thursday, July 23. The route cuts through Johnson County from Sutliff, to Solon, down Newport Road, to Coralville. Then Friday morning it leaves through Iowa City and out of the county to the southeast.

If you are up for party, join in. (If Cheap Trick can’t get you going, who can?) If not, hunker down for a few hours and let it pass. Either way, rest assured that having 15,000 or so cyclists pass through is good for the local economy.

RAGBRAI is also a bit of a strain on local emergency services providers – if you see them in action, please thank them for keeping all of us safe.

*ADA Celebration
         The annual celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is Saturday, July 25 from 11-2 at the Ped Mall in downtown Iowa City. There will be food, music, info, speakers, and fun!

         This is a particularly meaningful celebration, as this marks the 25th anniversary of the ADA. Please join us if you can!

*Bye Bye BJ!
         Our youngest child left for college this past weekend. BJ is headed to Des Moines to attend Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). While he is there, he will be staying with one of Melissa’s sisters, which makes us feel really good.

         We aren’t technically “empty nesters” yet, as Jordan is still here for the summer. But starting in mid-August, things will be much quieter around our house.

         The whole thing brings up a range of emotions for me. On one hand, I am proud, hopeful, happy, and relieved. On the other hand, I am anxious, worried, sad, and lonely. All these feelings, all at once!

         Good luck, BJ! I am proud of you and I love you!

*Boss Hogg Politics
         The recent discussion over the Confederate flag has led to many mentions of The Dukes of Hazard and their County Supervisor, Boss Hogg.

         While the Confederate flag looks as though it is on the way out, Boss Hogg politics are unfortunately alive and well in Johnson County.

         Where this really manifests itself is in poor management. Let me give you an example:

         Person X is a prominent landowner. He feels there is a problem with the ditch in front of his house. He complains to Secondary Roads. They take a look at the area, and determine that County structures are working, County policies have been followed; basically, there is nothing wrong on the County’s end.

         Person X then complains to Supervisor Y. Rather than talk to Secondary Roads and hear their side, Supervisor Y sees this as an opportunity to ingratiate himself. So he throws Secondary Roads under the bus. They are forced to go back out, redo their work, and do extra work.

         A month later, all sorts of staff people and elected officials get to sit around on the taxpayer’s dime, spending two hours determining that what we already knew was true is true.

         So we spent a bunch of time and money – why? So one Supervisor could bend the rules for one prominent person in order to get one vote?

         This happens way too often, and it needs to stop!

*Colangelo - Newport Road
         The Board of Supervisors recently received an application from Nick and Kay Colangelo to rezone a little over 20 acres from A-agricultural to R-Residential.

         The land in question is in a residential area, surrounded by other houses. It is in an area designated for residential growth. Since it is within two miles of Iowa City, Iowa City reviewed the application. The IC Council passed it 7-0.

         It is a beautiful plot of land; there is a blue line creek, steep slopes, and lots of woodlands, all surrounding a meadow of about 5 acres. Because of the very factors that make the plot beautiful, future development will be quite limited. The County’s Sensitive Areas Ordinance will create enough roadblocks that really only the 5 acre meadow will be able to be developed in the future.

         Even 5 acres is not a good measure of future development, as interior infrastructure (roads, etc.) typically takes up over 10% of the land. So there may be room there in the future for say, 8 houses. It could easily be less. It may be that NO houses are ever built.

         But somehow, these 8 potential future houses are a great cause for concern. Why? Because the Colangelo’s land happens to be on Newport Road.

         I do not need to explain all the history of the battles over Newport Road. You have heard it all before. But I do think it is important for the public to understand this particular application.

         The County has a Road Performance Standards Ordinance. It states that once a chip seal road reaches 2000 vehicles per day (vpd), no more rezoning will occur until that chip seal road has been upgraded.

         The traffic count on Newport Road was 1042 vpd in 2010. Neighbors demanded a second study in 2014. It came back with a count of 997 vpd. So this road is at only HALF the allowable traffic count.

         Planning and Zoning took an EXTREME view of the ordinance. They took every platted (but unbuilt) lot on Newport Road, and took it times 8 car trips per day. Then they took every bit of zoned (but unplatted) ground and divided it by the most lots possible. Then they took that number times 8. Added together, they got a total of 1000 actual trips plus approximately 900 POTENTIAL trips for a total of just over 1900 POTENTIAL vpd.

         We know that not every lot will be built upon. Some are unbuildable. Others hold septic systems. Some are in the floodplain. In many cases, folks own two lots because they just wanted a bit more elbow room. All of these scenarios add up to a large number of unbuilt lots. They are very unlikely to generate ANY traffic ever.

         Yet P&Z included these lots in their count. They came up with the highest vpd number reason could possibly allow. And it was STILL under the 2000 vpd limit. Yet the opponents claim that Newport Road has exceeded the Road Performance Standards.

         I noted that we had two official traffic counts; that is the only objective data that exists. When I asked what data the opponents were using, the response was, “I drive out there.”

         So now we are making up data? Where does this stop? Do I claim that a Department is over budget because they have spent 50% of their allocation? Do we quit collecting taxes when we have reached 50% of our total? I believe it is critical that Johnson County use actual data to make decisions.

         This may not be a big deal to any of you who read this. But it is a big deal to the Colangelos. And it is a big deal to me.

         It is a big deal to me because I firmly believe every citizen of this county should be treated equally under the law. The Colangelos should not be punished for owning land on Newport Road. They deserve to be treated like anyone else.

*DID YOU KNOW?  Johnson County is home to just one elected official who is under age 30 – Iowa City Councilor Kingsley Botchway. There are very few electeds under 40, and not many under 50.

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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