MUSCATINE — A public hearing was held at Monday's Board of Supervisors meeting to present on two proposed amendments to the county's zoning ordinance.
The recommendations by the Muscatine County Zoning Commission would add a special permitted use for agricultural zoned land and update the definition of 'family' to remove the de facto ban on adding more than one kitchen to a house.
'Clean burning propane'
Currently, a business cannot operate a way station to store and distribute liquid propane in agricultural districts.
"We've had some interest from our LP Gas retailers that were interested in establishing one of these types of sties," said Eric Furnas who presented at Monday's public hearing. "We looked at our current zoning regulations and those types of facilities would only be allowed in industrial zoning districts. Obviously, a lot of their customers are out in those rural areas because that LP gas a highly used commodity in those rural areas."
Furnas explained that many rural facilities have liquid propane tanks on site that fuel everything from the water heater to the gas stove. In addition, farmers depend on liquid propane to power grain dryers and heat their livestock buildings.
"It’s really just a tank with chain link fence where a distributor can top off his truck without having to go back across the county," Furnas said.
The amendment would allow for such a way station to exist so long as it met a number of qualifications:
- Its capacity shall not exceed 60,000 gallons.
- The station shall be located a minimum of 750 feet from any other existing structure.
- The site shall have frontage to a paved road and offer sufficient area for a complete truck turn around without backing onto or off of the public road way.
- The structure shall be completely enclosed within at least a 6 foot high fence.
- In addition, applicable permits and letters of authorization from the Iowa State Fire Marshal's Office will be required prior to commencing operation.
'Broke their family tradition'
Furnas explained that the county was approached with a zoning problem a younger middle-aged couple was having.
"They were looking to buy a house, and they were going to make some improvements to it, including building an addition for their set of aging parents that lived with them," Furnas said. "They wanted to be able to put in a bedroom and bathroom and let their parents, who have some care needs, have their own kitchen. Basically, they ran up against this brick wall of our current — if outdated — definition of 'family.'"
As of right now, 'family' in Muscatine County's Zoning Ordinance is defined as the following:
"One (1) or more persons who are related by blood, adoption or marriage, living together and occupying single housekeeping units, with single kitchen facilities, or a group of not more than five (5) persons living together by joint agreement, and occupying single housekeeping units, with single kitchen facilities, on a nonprofit cost-sharing basis."
To free up county residents like the couple Furans mentioned, they took the single kitchen line out of the definition.
"Just the fact that someone has two kitchens in their house does not mean that they are running an apartment complex," Furnas said.