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Proposal to change Freeport property zoning to C4 shopping center wins Planning & Zoning Commission approval

Posted: Mon, Jan 11, 2021 8:16 PM

Six of the seven members of the Decorah Planning and Zoning Commission have voted in favor of changing the zoning on 16.75 acres of land along Old Stage Road from F-1 floodplain to C-4 shopping center commercial.  The recommendation now is sent on to the Decorah City Council.

At a public hearing on the issue Monday night, two people spoke in favor of the zoning change, while eight opposed it.  Decorah realtor Tade Kerndt said a University of Iowa flood study of the area showed "development will not significantly increase water levels" in the area.  Decorah resident Brian Huinker said approving the zoning change would "keep the momentum going" for Decorah's economy.

Decorah resident Peter Vaden Linden spoke in opposition to the zoning change, saying the new zoning would conflict with the city's future land use plan.  Decorah resident Jim Fritz, whose house sits on property next to the Upper Iowa River, said the floodplain is meant as a buffer and changes to the zoning of land along the river have meant that property owners "are suffering death from 1,000 cuts."

Decorah's Karen McLean urged city officials to plan for 20 or 30 years from now, while Tim Wagner of Decorah told the P&Z members, "There's a reason this property was zoned floodplain."

The 6-1 vote means the issue will now be sent on to the Decorah City Council, possibly as soon as next Monday evening.