Johnson County residents speak against proposed Windham Village plans

Residents said they would prefer for the county not to establish the village


Grace Kreber

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors meets on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022.

Alejandro Rojas, News Reporter

Johnson County residents of Windham spoke out against a proposed plan on Thursday at the Board of Supervisors meeting that would set a village boundary for Windham Village. Residents requested the area be left in its current state.

The plan would establish Windham —  about 14 miles from Iowa City — as a village. The purpose of villages, which are small and rural areas located in the county, is to allow growth. 

The board voted 3-1 to defer the formal vote establishing the village for 90 days. Supervisors Heiden, Green, and Sullivan voted in favor of the deferment, while vice-chair Green-Douglas dissented.

A little over 10 people spoke during the hearing, who almost said that the supervisors should vote against establishing the village. They cited concerns about the village potentially impacting farmland, and not having enough input in the process. 

Some speakers also pointed to the other villages the county had made, namely River Junction, saying that it had allegedly been a failure.

Windham resident Tracy Evans said at the meeting that the area should stay the same.

“I’ve lived in Windham, or in the area, for my whole life, and as you can see, everyone here is against the plan, and I don’t understand how you guys are going to vote yes for it [when] it's against everybody’s wishes and will,” Evans said.

Bryan Meade, another resident, summed up the feelings of the majority of the speakers.

“I just ask for a no vote. Let’s leave Windham the way it is,” he said. “I think we just need to be left alone.”

Patrick Mougin, another resident of the area, told the supervisors that some of the residents created a committee to discuss the plan and requested the board defer the vote and allow the committee to meet with the county.

Among the speakers was state Sen. Dawn Driscoll, who voiced support for the concerns of the residents.

“I urge you to listen to the concerns of these residents affected by this plan tonight,” Driscoll said. “I have spent several months talking with voters in this area, and this issue was by far and away the number one concern I heard from them.”

Also in attendance was recent county supervisor candidate Phil Hemingway, who also spoke in support of the residents.

“In many of my campaigns, I’ve spoken of the urban-rural divide, and you’re seeing it here tonight,” Hemingway said. 

Following the public comments, Josh Busard, county Planning, Development, and Sustainability Department director, told the supervisors that the department’s staff had already done extensive work with the people of Windham.

“We have had two public hearings, we’ve been to the village of Windham twice at Renee’s [Roadhouse]. We had a public comment period, and I feel that my staff has done an excellent job at trying to pull together all the public comments while still coming up with a plan that is going to be supportive of our comprehensive plan, and the board’s [other] policies,” Busard said.

Busard added he felt enough time had been allowed for public feedback, and he recommended the plan should move forward.

Supervisor Pat Heiden voiced her support for deferring the vote and giving time for the residents to meet with county staff.

“If we can have open and honest discussions, I do always tend to defer to that because as long as we can have more conversation, I always think there has to be some good coming from that,” Heiden said. “I hope that we would consider deferring this and that this committee can meet at least one more time with supervisors.”

Supervisor Jon Green, like Heiden, spoke in favor of deferring the board’s vote. He also voiced his appreciation for the residents’ committee and its willingness to work with the county. 

“I think that it is in your best interest, as I have heard them from you, that there be a village plan. I really think that this is the best way to protect the things you think are important,” Green said. “However, I also acknowledge that while we may have fulfilled our legal obligations, it’s quite clear we’re not there in terms of there being buy-in from area residents.”