IC family worried over potential rezoning

The Dane family has grown concerned that the proposed rezoning of land adjacent to their property will negatively affect their family’s wishes to construct a community park.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

The Iowa City City Council is seen during a meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

Isabelle Foland, News Reporter

After coming to Iowa City in 1928, George Dane made a lasting impression on the community. Now, his family worries his posthumous wish to give back to the community he loved could be jeopardized with a proposed rezoning bid.

At the April 4 Iowa City City Council meeting, the council deferred a rezoning ordinance for 13 acres of land located between Mormon Trek Boulevard and Dane Road until the next meeting on April 18.

This deferral came because of several members of the public, either in-person or via email, speaking in opposition to the rezoning. One member was Jane Driscoll, granddaughter of George Dane.

In an interview with The Daily Iowan, Jane Driscoll spoke of many fond memories she had of spending time with her grandparents on the Dane family farm, which is located adjacent to the proposed rezoning land. She said she remembers celebrating family birthdays, various holidays, and general family gatherings on the property.

RELATED: Local Iowa City parks closer to receiving renovations

She also spoke of George Dane’s contributions to the Iowa City community and the nation, including his participation in several Iowa City civil service organizations and his 32 years of service in the U.S. Army reserves.

In the 1990s, George Dane came up with the idea to preserve the scenic hilltop land his family lived on into a trust so that the land could later be turned into a community park.

In George Dane’s trust, it states that once the Dane family is no longer living on the farm, the land will be deeded to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to be then turned into a park, Jane Driscoll said.

With this proposed rezoning being so close to the land that will be used as a park, Jane Driscoll and her mother, Janet Dane Driscoll, worry any new commercial developments in the rezoned area will disturb the scenic nature of the land.

Their main concerns are light and noise pollution, increased traffic, and trash on the property, which they say they already experience because of the proximity of an existing car dealership.

These concerns were brought up during public comment at the April 4 city council meeting, which led to the public hearing for this rezoning to be held off until the council could meet with the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission at the April 18 work session.

There, the council and the commission will discuss why the commission feels this land should be rezoned. At their March 1 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously passed their recommendation to the council to approve this rezoning.

Several commissioners stated at the March 1 meeting that they feel this rezoning will not have a detrimental impact on the future park and may even make the land more attractive by facilitating commercial development.

According to the staff report on the rezoning ordinance, the land is currently zoned as a Commercial Office Zone, and the proposed rezoning would change it to an Intensive Commercial Zone.

The report states this rezoning should occur because an Intensive Commercial Zone in this area would better fit the city’s overall Comprehensive Plan and the area’s district plan.

The report states that the proposed area should be an Intensive Commercial Zone to be consistent with the nearby Iowa City Municipal Airport and surrounding areas already currently zoned as Intensive Commercial Zones.

Other reasons listed in the report state this rezoning would provide future opportunities for commercial growth as the city’s population grows and would use up nearby empty land, outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.

No specific development for this area has been announced yet, but Intensive Commercial Zones are typically used by businesses with outdoor displays and other similar uses, the report states.

Jane Driscoll and Janet Dane Driscoll said they will be in attendance for the April 18 work session on the topic of this rezoning, and they hope the council will keep George Dane’s wishes in mind when they make their decision during the subsequent formal meeting.

“It won’t change the plans for it to be a park; it will be a park,” Janet Dane Driscoll said. “It’s just that it will affect those that use the park and want to enjoy it.”