S. Cedar St. property causes concern with city

City Council
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

It appears there are some issues with the home located at 502 S. Cedar St. in Monticello. 

Monticello City Administrator Doug Herman and the city council discussed the possible zoning violation at length during the Jan. 20 council meeting. 

Herman prefaced his opening remarks with correspondence with the homeowner, Steve Intlekofer, dating back to late July of 2019. 

Intlekofer’s first letter to Herman was dated July 29. He stated his initial intent with the home on S. Cedar Street was to turn it into a “group home for Mexican children from the border and/or a group home for persons in treatment.” He also stated there would be enough parking for two vehicles. 

Herman sent Intlekofer a letter in response, noting that the property is zoned R-1, meaning for single-family use, not a group home situation. If Intlekofer intended to use the home as a group home dwelling, several requirements would need to be followed, according to City Code. 

Further more, Herman said City Code does not permit treatment centers in areas zoned R-1. 

Intlekofer then explained to Herman via another letter that the plan would include a mother with five children, using one vehicle. In addition, an adult daughter and her three children were soon to move in as well, also requiring one vehicle. Intlekofer said he considers this living arrangement “a family unit for R-1.” 

Herman indicated that if the family relations as Intlekofer explained remained as such, they qualified as R-1 and could reside at that property. 

In his communication page to the council, Herman said it appears as though the home on S. Cedar Street is being treated as a duplex with two families living upstairs and down. 

The home maintains one water meter, one gas meter, and one electric meter, not two as would be required in a duplex. 

The upstairs tenant visited City Hall and it was clarified that both tenants maintain a lease, not the sole occupant. In addition, the city utility account is in the name of the upstairs tenant. This same tenant said Intlekofer was paying utilities for the downstairs tenant; however, there is only one utility account on record. The upstairs tenant also requested separate garbage and recycling containers for the downstairs tenant. 

“We constantly have this one issue in this town with the same person,” noted Mayor Brian Wolken of repeated zoning issues. “It’s time to put the hammer down and put a stop to it. I’m sick of it.” 

Herman said he’s been in contact with ECIA (East Central Intergovernmental Association) in Dubuque regarding an application for rental assistance, but only for the downstairs tenant. 

“I could put some pressure on ECIA that it’s illegal,” Herman suggested. He said providing proper City Code documentation to ECIA would tell them that the rental assistance request is illegal for this property. 

Another alternative, Herman said, would be to send Intlekofer a cease and desist letter and take him to court for violating the zoning ordinance. 

Monticello resident Kaye Junion asked the council if this sort of situation would lead to the designation of a “sanctuary city.” 

“That’s a far leap,” said Wolken. “We (the city) would have to declare it (as such). That is not a concern of mine.” 

Furthermore, Herman said he has no reason to believe the residents on S. Cedar Street are illegal. 

The council asked Herman to notify ECIA of the situation to hopefully put a stop to the situation. If that step was unsuccessful, Herman said the city could seek an injunction and issue a civil infraction against Intlekofer. 

“We need to put a stop to this,” said Council member Tom Yeoman. 

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