The Waterloo Plan Commission took up an unusual conditional use permit (CUP) for four properties within the city – the request was coming from the city and not a private developer. The city’s request for the CUPs to allow for the construction of more than one dwelling unit for lots 1, 2, 3 and 60 in the Treyburn Farm Subdivision was approved during the June 23 commission meeting.

The Waterloo City Council purchased 19 undeveloped subdivision lots, located on Blue Grass Trail, in August 2019. As part of the purchase, the city would market and sell the platted lots based on the relative lot size and will offer a $1,500 flat real estate agent commission rate per lot sale. The approved authorization also enables the city to repurchase each lot at the original price if an occupancy permit is not issued within 36 months of the lot sale. Mayor Jeni Quimby launched the project as a way to stimulate community growth.

A public hearing was held at the start of last week’s meeting. Clerk/Treasurer Mo Hansen explained the CUP was a generic request to allow for multi-unit dwellings as a way to alleviate the concerns of potential buyers who may be hesitant if they are unsure if the city would allow for the building of something other than a single-family home.

“It’s meant to be open-ended for the maximum amount of flexibility,” he said.

Quimby said the neighborhood signed off on allowing lot 60 to be converted from a single to multi-family dwelling. The other three lots did not need neighbors to agree with the requested CUP. According to the mayor, the owners of lots 3 and 60 are planning to build duplexes on the properties.

Hansen said if a future property owner chooses to develop one of the plots to a multi-unit building, they would need to abide by the city’s standards and building code requirements.

The city hosted a June 19 event showcasing the Treyburn Farms Subdivision. In a message to The Courier, he said the onsite catering company reported serving 80 lunches. There was also a builder/buyer drawing, which was won by Julie Busche of Inventure Realty Group; the cost of her lot is now deferred until the buyer is ready to build.

“The best news is that as of June 19 (barely two weeks after the asphalt was laid) we have accepted offers for six of the 19 lots,” Hansen wrote.

In an effort to attract builders, realtors and buyers, the city has set forth several initiatives including waiving all municipal building fees and municipal impact fees, reducing the cost of building from a $340,000 home by $5,400, and offering a commission to any real estate agent representing a buyer. Furthermore, Waterloo business McKay Nursery is offering new Treyburn Farms Subdivision homes a free landscape design for the front of the home.

Smaller accessory buildings no longer require plan commission approval

When taking action on old business, the commission approved changes to Waterloo’s accessory building ordinance.

“What we found is that when people added in the price of the $285 conditional use permit and the time and so forth, we had a lot of frustrated applicants,” Hansen said. “This attempts to remedy that.”

He said the revisions create three categories of accessory buildings based on square footage. Structures of less than 144 square feet do not need a building permit or a CUP, the building just needs to abide by city codes; structures that are 144-200 square feet require a building permit from the building inspector but do not need a CUP or to come before the plan commission; structures larger than 200 square feet will need to come before the plan commission and require a CUP.

The clerk/treasurer said the commission was not fond of having many small projects come before it, particularly those smaller accessory structures built from kits that can be obtained from retail stores.

The commission also discussed the city’s comprehensive plan update. Hansen and city office administrative assistant Raynelle Butzine have been refreshing the document as the plan commission had previously discussed.

“We just want to confirm (with the commission) that the items that are in should be in, and the items that are out, should be out,” the clerk/treasurer said.

Citizen and Waterloo Area Historical Society representative Maureen Giese addressed the commission about the amendments to the comprehensive plan. She suggested adding endnotes to the plan, documenting what the city has tried and whether it was successful or not so the document does not need to reinvent the plan. Other suggestions she made included possible additions to Chapter 5: Cultural Resources.

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