Developer says denial of residential zoning near I-280 leaves him in limbo

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- A 70-acre plot of land south of Locust Street and west of Interstate 280 that has been rezoned for commercial development in 1994, today is sitting idle despite one land developer's vision for a grand residential subdivision.

"It's prime area," said Dale Grunwald of Long Grove. He runs Grunwald Land Development and has been doing subdivisions for nearly 20 years.

His vision was to build single-family homes in the $300-$500,000 range on large plots of lands, about one acre each, with West Lake Park bordering the plat on the south, a church and American Honda to the north.

"It's for the guy that likes to be alone," he said. "There’s a big demand. There’s a number of people that want the bigger lots. They want the privacy."

Grunwald said he worked with  Scott County's planning and zoning commission for the past year and a half. The original plan called for 70 plots.

"Originally it had more plots," said Scott County Planning Director Tim Huey, who initially directed Grunwald to the City of Davenport. "Our policy is to direct development to the city. We don't encourage development in unincorporated areas."

The city wouldn't provide sewer service, Grunwald said, due to the price tag: "They could not sewer it because of a cost of $4.5 million," he said. "So then we proceeded on to rezone it to residential."

Grunwald asked for the plot to be rezoned for single-family residential development, reducing the number of plots to 47 and making each one larger, which would allow him to put up septic systems.

"It went through a couple of iterations to accommodate our rules and regulations in a form that the planning commission found acceptable," Huey said. The plan met the required criteria and Huey recommended it be approved, forwarding it a seven-member planning commission, who also approved it 6-0 with one member absent.

Grunwald said he had no indication supervisors would vote eventually against the proposal.

"We had a vote from Scott County to deny it 4-1. I’m just confused that I followed all the rules and I’m still gonna denied," Grunwald said.

Huey explained that county supervisors, with Ken Croken dissenting, rejected the plan because they wanted to keep the area a "C-2" zone for commercial development.

"They were on record stating that since this land was C-2, we have limited inventory of C-2, they didn’t want to rezone this to R-1 (residential) because they wanted to retain that inventory of C-2 land, to be ready for economic development opportunities," he explained. "Because once you develop land as residential, the likelihood of large commercial development evaporates."

But Grunwald said there is a reason there's been no commercial interest: "We’d love to, and we talked to commercial businesses to come here, and they basically tell you: 'You have no sewer.'"
"So either get us sewer or let us develop it as residential," he said. "Do something with this ground."
Supervisor Ken Croken said he plans to introduce a resolution in April to form a task force that would study development for that plot of land.
Grunwald said he is moving on to other projects.
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