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Woods v. Fayette County Zoning Board of Adjustment

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 21, 2018

JOHN WENDELL WOODS, RONALD WOODS, C&W FARMS and WOODS CONSTRUCTION, INC, JAMES RICHARD COSTELLO and CITY OF FAIRBANK, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
FAYETTE COUNTY ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT, CATHERINE MILLER AS FAYETTE COUNTY ZONING ADMINISTRATOR, DANTE WIND 6, L.L.C., GALILEO WIND 1 L.L.C., VENUS WIND 4 L.L.C., MASON WIND L.L.C., OPTIMUM RENEWABLES L.L.C., and THOMAS G. ROURKE and KIMBERLY K. ROURKE, Defendants-Appellants.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Fayette County, John Bauercamper, Judge.

         Defendants appeal the district court's reversal of the decision of the Fayette County Zoning Board of Adjustment to uphold the issuance of permits for the construction of three wind turbines.

          Alexander M. Johnson and Adam C. Van Dike of Brown, Winick, Graves, Gross, Baskerville and Schoenebaum, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellants Dante Wind 6 L.L.C., Galileo Wind 1 L.L.C., Venus Wind 4 L.L.C., Mason Wind L.L.C., Optimum Renewables L.L.C., Thomas G. Rourke, and Kimberly K. Rourke.

          James J. Burns of Miller, Pearson, Gloe, Burns, Beatty & Parrish, P.L.C., Decorah, for appellants Catherine Miller as Fayette County Zoning Administrator and Fayette County Zoning Board of Adjustment.

          Heather A. Prendergast, Carter J. Stevens, and David W. Hosack of Roberts, Stevens & Prendergast, P.L.L.C., Waterloo, for appellee City of Fairbank.

          Patrick B. Dillon of Dillon Law, P.C., Sumner, for appellees Ronald Woods, John Woods, James Costello, C&W Farms, and Woods Construction, Inc.

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, Judge.

         A zoning administrator granted applications for zoning compliance, which allowed the construction of wind turbines on agricultural land. The board of adjustment denied appeals from the decision. The district court, however, concluded the zoning administrator acted illegally in granting the applications. We must decide if the district court's decision was correct.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The Fayette County Zoning Ordinance lists several "permitted uses" in agriculturally-zoned districts, including use for "[e]lectrical and natural gas transmission and regulating facilities." The ordinance also authorizes "special use permits" following notice and hearing:

Section 9. AG DISTRICT REGULATIONS (Agricultural Districts). Statement of Intent. The AG District is intended and designed to preserve agricultural resources and protect agricultural land from encroachment of urban land uses.
A.Principal Permitted Uses. Only the use of structures or land listed in this section shall be permitted ...

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