The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

April 7, 2014

Court of Appeals upholds RIZ ruling

The Homeowners Association of the Coves of Sundown Lake have prevailed in their effort to establish a Rural Improvement Zone for their property located in northeast Appanoose County.

The Iowa Court of Appeals on March 26 upheld a district court ruling that allowed the establishment of the RIZ at Sundown Lake.

The Appeals Court ruled the 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.”

The issue is nearly two years old.

The Homeowners Association first petitioned the Appanoose County Board of Supervisors Nov. 2, 2012 during a public hearing to establish a RIZ.

The Homeowners Association demonstrated through aerial photos and information to support the need to make improvements to alleviate silting of the lake.

The Homeowners Association petition with 172 signatures said they wanted to establish a RIZ for the “purpose of diverting future property tax revenue growth towards making improvements in the Sundown Lake area.”

The Board during the public hearing also discussed the requirements for establishment of a zone and the loss of revenue to the county if a zone was created. The statutory requirements necessitating that the Board hold a hearing were not discussed.

The Appanoose County Board of Supervisors denied the petition on Nov. 13, 2012. The Board said the Homeowners Association “failed to meet the threshold requirements for Board consideration and further denying the petition because of the loss of tax revenue to the county as a whole.”

The Homeowners Association on Dec. 6, 2012 filed an appeal of that decision, which the district court overturned and the RIZ was allowed to proceed.

The Board’s case before the Iowa Court of Appeals claimed “the district court erred in granting the Association standing, erred in finding the Board acted illegally in denying the RIZ petition on procedural grounds after setting the petition for a public hearing and that the board acted illegally in denying the petition it’s merits.”

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