The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

June 5, 2014

Supervisors approve RIZ resolution

The Appanoose County Board of Supervisors Monday morning, June 2 approved a resolution designating a Rural Improvement Zone and establishing boundaries for the Homeowners Association of the Coves of Sundown Lake.

The resolution states the Appanoose County Board of Supervisors have determined "that the proposed rural improvement zone is in need of improvements." The resolution establishes what is known as the "Sundown Lake Rural Improvement Zone" effective as of Nov. 13, 2012.

The decision by the Board Monday to approve a resolution to allow a RIZ at Sundown Lake brings to close what could be described as an adversarial relationship with the Homeowners Association.

The Board in November of 2012 denied the Homeowners Association petition to form a RIZ at the lake. On Jan. 30, 2013 a judge annulled the Board's decision to deny a petition filed by the Homeowners Association to establish a RIZ.

The Board appealed to the Iowa Court of Appeals and on March 26 they upheld the district court ruling that allowed the establishment of the RIZ at Sundown Lake.

The Appeals Court ruled the Homeowners Association had standing "to request the writ, the Board acted improperly in finding the Association had failed to meet the filing requirements after granting a public hearing, and the Board acted improperly in considering irrelevant matters in denying the Association’s request for a rural improvement zone."

Once a RIZ is established, property taxes on subsequent improvements within the RIZ stay with the development. Currently, RIZ's do not have a sunset.

Iowa Code provides a procedure by which RIZ's may be created in counties with a private lake development and with less than 20,000 residents. One section of the code requires the county board of supervisors "to create such a zone upon receipt of a petition and after a determination the area requires improvements."

Improvements is defined to include dredging and erosion control measures, the types of improvements sought by the Homeowners Association. Their petition presented evidence concerning the need for improvements within the proposed zone, specifically concerning erosion and silting.

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