Proposed development too close to school, JW museum, Art Center, business district and historic homes, without ample parking


Seven Winterset property owners adjacent to the former Winterset Middle School have filed a writ of certiorari against the Winterset Board of Adjustment, challenging whether the panel had the authority to make ruling in favor of developers hoping to transform the old school building into rental properties.

Cole Davis (Ask Studio) and Michael Kiernan with the Jack Hatch Development Group) want to renovate the old middle school and construct an adjacent building for income property purposes.

The developers are proposing to develop this property, which would provide for 43 residential apartments units … which includes the “erection of a new building for additional apartments,” states the petition, filed March 25, 2020.

The suit alleges the Winterset Board of Adjustment granted variances requested by the developers despite objections filed by property owners Jerry and Betty Oliver. The variances were granted March 6, by the board of adjustment.

The Olivers contested the variance on grounds that it allows the developers to use less square footage than required by city zoning law. The city ordinance requires a 2,000-square foot requirement per unit.

 The city ordinance, plaintiffs say, would require 86,000-square feet of space. Developers, however, submitted a 74,000-square foot plan for their activities.

The property owners maintain the board of adjustment “acted in excess of its authority” in NOT requiring off-street parking as required by the city ordinance, when 70.5 off-street parking spaces are required.

The property owners are further challenging the board of adjustment’s action because the proposed development site is one block west of the John Wayne Museum and Birthplace site, and is also less than one block away from the Winterset Art Center.

Property owners also maintain that the Winterset business districts begins directly across the street from the proposed development site, and that the Winterset Elementary school is about one block south of the site.

The challenges says that by not requiring enough off-street parking it would “result in unreasonable congestion” around the proposed development site, and “would cause a devaluation” of property values in the area.

Additionally, the petition states “there are many historic homes in close proximity to the site, which were built before the former school building.”

Property owners – including Betty Oliver, Tom and Deb Brown, Debbie Holiday, Nestor and Ava Serrano, and Teresa Hofflemeyer – are seeking that the board of adjustment ruling “granting the variances be annulled and decreed void.”

Reporter at the Winterset Madisonian. He has also been the managing editor at the Madisonian.