The rezoning of farmland in Johnson County to make way for a housing subdivision took another step forward Thursday as the fight over the proposal intensified.
The Johnson County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in support of a request to rezone 91 acres north of Iowa City from agricultural land to what is known as rural cluster. The rezoning would allow real estate agent Bill Young to move ahead with plans to put 70 homes on the property, at 2915 Newport Rd., which is owned by Sharon Dooley.
The final vote on the rezoning is scheduled for next week. After that, county approval would still be needed on various aspects of the project, including the platting process.
The proposal has been strongly criticized by residents of the unincorporated Newport area and others who enjoy the rural setting there.
On Thursday, there were a few confrontations between members of the public and the supervisors.
Laurie Tulchin, who lives near the Dooley property, told Supervisor Rod Sullivan that the statements he had made supporting the rezoning were “ridiculous.” She also said the supervisors voting for it were not listening to the people who are concerned about the negative effects they believe the subdivision would have on the rural area, roads and the environment.
Sullivan responded to her comments on road safety and the environment by calling her a “hypocrite” because she has to drive several miles from her home to get into town.
Tulchin and Jim Glasgow of Iowa City offered to buy Dooley’s property on Monday and, along with their attorney, Jeff McGinness, asked the Board of Supervisors to table the rezoning matter. Board Chairwoman Janelle Rettig said it is not the county’s place to step into a land sale between private parties.
Dooley already has an agreement to sell the land and forcefully said the opportunity has passed for others to buy it, including Tulchin and Glasgow.
“No,” she said to Tulchin. “Is that clear for you? No. N.O.”
Supervisor John Etheredge cast the dissenting vote on the rezoning.
The board last week approved the first and second considerations of the rezoning request. The third and final vote was expected to occur Thursday.
But the board often holds three separate votes for controversial matters. In an attempt for clarity, the supervisors on Thursday voted unanimously to amend last week’s decision and hold the second consideration Thursday, with the final vote expected next week.