Cedar Falls supports partial zoning change - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Falls supports partial zoning change

The Cedar Falls Planning and Zoning Commission decided to support a proposed ordinance that would forbid converting single family homes into multiple rental units.

"It's really more of a neighborhood issue, quality of life and maintaining the integrity of the neighborhood, so to speak," said Marty Ryan, Cedar Falls City Planner.

Ryan's department drafted the proposal.

It's been the policy for years on College Hill, near the University of Northern Iowa -- no single family homes can be converted for multiple renters. Ryan said this protects the density of neighborhoods, and solves parking overcrowding issues. He also voiced concerns about rental conversations not being properly maintained.

The Commission voted to apply the ordinance to "R1" and "R2" zoned neighborhoods, which are already zoned for single families. They didn't accept proposed alterations to "R3" and "R4" zones, which are zoned for high occupancy.

Bob Miklo, Senior Planner for the Iowa City, said they have a similar law on the books.

"Most cities have zones that only allow for single families," he said.

He also noted that more than 50% of Iowa City homes are rentals.

In Cedar Falls, the Commission's compromise is not a huge change, but it does have some landlords upset.

"I don't understand why having, say, a duplex seems like it's such a bad thing," Chris Wernimont, a Cedar Falls Landlord said. "You're basically saying to part of the population that can't afford ... a place like The Meadows, can't afford a $200,000 home, 'well, if you can't afford it, we don't want you to live here.'"

Wernimont said this is like cutting him off at the knees, because he should be able to alter a property if he bought it.

Ryan noted there is an exception to the rule: you won't be able convert an existing home, but you can knock it down and build a new duplex. All existing rental conversions are also exempt.

Some have expressed concerned that the ordinance preys on vulnerable renters, like college students.

"It's not targeting college students by any measure, but over the years, like a lot of college towns, we have had rental issues," Ryan said.

From here, the Planning and Zoning Commission will send its recommendation to the City Council, so nothing is final yet.

The City Council will review the ordinance in the spring.

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