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Winneshiek County Fair Board granted variance in order to build a new community center

Posted: Wed, Dec 2, 2020 5:46 PM

The Decorah Zoning Board of Adjustment has granted a variance to the Winneshiek County Fair Board, paving the way for possible construction of an 18,000 square foot community center at the fairgrounds.

Fair Board Secretary/Treasurer Ron Hemesath met with Board of Adjustment members Tuesday night, explaining that six current buildings on the fairgrounds are being torn down.  In their place, a 100 foot by 180 foot metal building would be constructed, which would be used to host events during the Fair and during the rest of the year.

The Fair Board came before the Board of Adjustment because the site of the proposed new building is in the C-5 zoning district--and such uses are not permitted under city code.  However, City Administrator Chad Bird pointed out Tuesday that that's because "the fairgrounds use predates the city's zoning code."

Board of Adjustment members held a short discussion about parking requirements for the building, but agreed that parking would largely be done in surrounding parking lots and on neighboring streets.

One of the neighbors of the fairgrounds, Andy Hageman, appeared at Tuesday night's hearing, saying he wanted to hear the details of the proposed building.  Hageman told the Board of Adjustment the Fair is a good neighbor and it "has been good for the community."

Hemesath says the building carries an estimated cost of $1 million, so the Fair Board has begun fundraising.  He noted, however, "we're still working on that."