Completing a process that had been going on for months, the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors passed a county nuisance ordinance on a 3 to 1 vote Tuesday.
The ordinance is a pared down version from one that had been submitted earlier this year. There was significant opposition to the first version for a number of reasons and there continued to be opposition to the new version.
The latest version had been considered at three separate meetings. The board can waive second and third readings but decided to have all three meetings to allow public input.
Although board members said they had gotten comments outside of board meetings in support of the ordinance, comments from the audience at the meetings have been overwhelmingly opposed to passage of a county nuisance ordinance. There were several people in the audience at the meeting on Tuesday.
"I'd like to see where they are," Larry Towne said about those who support the ordinance.
Dean Schmidt, supervisor, said that some people can't make a meeting during the day and that supervisors should be available to hear comments from people who want to talk to them outside of meeting time.
"This is putting a law on top of a law," Towne stated. He said there are too many laws already.
Opponents of the ordinance stated at this and previous meetings that the ordinance was redundant because everything contained in the law is already contained in state law, it would encourage people to make complaints against neighbors, the county can't afford to investigate these complaints and the need to comply with the provisions of the ordinance might be attached to the sale of property. They gave other reasons for their opposition.
Supervisors responded that there would not be a "witch hunt", that a complaint would need to be written and signed before an investigation was made of an alleged public nuisance. and that they don't anticipate many complaints. Supervisors stated that there would not be added expense due to the ordinance.
It was stated that the DNR has a lot of power regarding nuisances but doesn't have the manpower to enforce the state laws thoroughly and that when the DNR does take an action against a public nuisance, the DNR is not as flexible as the county would be.
The county ordinance is designed to give the county more local control.
"We can always revise it or repeal it, if it doesn't work out, " Schmidt said.
Terry Graybill, supervisor, said that Iowa has been rated by one poll as the worst state to do business in. "Doesn't that tell you that what we've been doing isn't working?" Graybill said.
Bud Clow, the only supervisor to vote against the ordinance, said, "This board can say how we want this treated but there are many boards to follow us,"
"They'll still be responsible to the taxpayers," Schmidt responded.
The conversation went to the subjects of economic development and county spending.
In response to accusations of poor money management by the supervisors, Ron Wetherell, chairman, said, "We are the third lowest county in the state as far as your county levy. I think this county does a good job in how it spends your money."
Wetherell, Schmidt and Graybill voted in favor of the ordinance. Clow voted against it. Clow said that he had talked to Jeff Simonsen, who was absent on Tuesday because of a funeral, and Simonsen had told Clow that he would have also voted against the ordinance.