City code approval tabled

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Monticello City Council was set to approve the third and final reading of the City Code of Ordinances at its Aug. 3 meeting; however, public sentiment put a hold on that action.

     Several people expressed concern with language in the city code that required not only driveway approaches, but also private driveways to be paved. Specifically, gravel driveways must be permanent, dust-free pavement. That requirement takes effect once a homeowner sells the property. The new owners then have 10 years to bring the property into compliance.

     “I thought this was settled before the Sycamore Street project, and gravel driveways were grandfathered in,” expressed Nick Zimmerman, who brought the issue to the council’s attention back in 2018.

     Zimmerman said it would be difficult for him to sell his property and considerably limit potential buyers if they know they have to invest money into a paved driveway.

     “This provision ultimately results in gravel driveways going away,” explained City Administrator Doug Herman.

     “So who polices that?” questioned Zimmerman.

     “All code is complaint driven,” said Mayor Brian Wolken. “The council sets a policy and when there are complaints, addresses it.”

     Zimmerman asked why the city was so concerned with private gravel driveways when city alleyways are being turned into gravel from seal coat.

     “I am not in favor of gravel alleys,” noted Wolken.

     Public Works Director Nick Kahler explained that several city alleyways were seal coated once and never re-done. He said Public Works can’t keep up with the maintenance, so he’s recommending turning them into gravel.

     Gaylen Kray got quite animated demanding to know why the city could tell private property owners what to do with their property when it comes to driveway material.

     “My driveway has been gravel for 40-plus years,” he said. “Stay off the property that I maintain.”

     Council member Dave Goedken agreed with Kray and Zimmerman, wanting the council to relook at those provisions within the city code before passing the third reading.

     “This is nothing but an example of government overreach,” said Goedken.

     He also wants the council to address language pertaining to commercial and industrial property owners paving parking lots and driveways, too.

     “We’re chasing jobs away requiring them to pave their lots,” continued Goedken. “With rules like this, factories will never expand here. If we do this, it’ll deter people from coming here.”

     Council member Gary Feldmann said the general public is not concerned with the condition of industrial lots. “It’s a double standard against residential,” he said.

     Herman noted that he has fielded complaints from people in the community about gravel lots.

     Wolken questioned why none of these sentiments were brought up earlier in the code-reading process when the council had two prior readings before now.

     “We’ve discussed this code for 18 months,” he said.

     Herman urged the council to define the line of enforcement when it comes to the city infringing on private property. He said neighbors complain when the house next door is falling apart; they want the city to intervene. Yet they don’t want the city telling them what to do with their driveways.

     “There’s a difference between a dilapidated house and a gravel driveway,” noted Zimmerman.

     Kray respectfully asked the council to remove the clause pertaining to the 10-year timeline for a paved drive, as well as removing the requirement for a paved driveway altogether.

     Feldmann agreed that the city should not be mandating rules for private property.

     “We have no business forcing private owners to pave private property,” he said. “We definitely need to address this before we move forward and pass it.” Feldmann added that all existing gravel driveways should be grandfathered into the city code, and approaches should only be paved with new street construction.

     “We cannot rush through this now,” Feldmann said of approving the third reading, noting public sentiment.

     After a lot of back-and-forth discussion, the council voted to table the third reading until the next meeting (Aug. 17).

In other city business:

   Mayor Wolken read a proclamation from Gov. Reynolds proclaiming Aug. 16-22 as “Water and Wastewater Workers of Iowa Week.”

     “This week is set aside for cities and towns to honor those workers in the water and waste water industry for their daily environmental work in keeping Iowans and the Iowa environment safe and healthy.”


Subscriber Login