Letter to the Editor

The Lake Macbride Conservancy urges the Johnson County Board of Supervisors to reconsider the “Land Use Plan” as it applies to the immediate surrounds of Lake Macbride.  There is an obvious conflict between the cluster development encouraged by the plan and the Board’s mission of “Proactive Protection of the Environment.”

Johnson County should be a leader in protecting the fragile resources of Lake Macbride’s natural environment rather than encouraging a policy that could leave them looking more like Clear Lake, which already has wrestled with cleaning up after ineffective septic systems.

Sale of lots in the Cottage Reserve in 1937 financed acquisition of all of the land for the original state park and lake of Lake Macbride.  The Cottage Reserve, which now contains 80 total lots, originally constructed a central wastewater treatment facility that remains regulated similarly to a small city by the state DNR.  No sewage or effluent flows into the lake.

With the increase of the size of the lake after construction of the Coralville Dam and Reservoir in 1957, additional development around Lake Macbride was possible.  Approximately 850 dwellings now exist around its perimeter, the size of a small city, and most all of them use separate septic tank systems.

In 1968, Johnson County Board of Health adopted a waste water treatment requirement, praised by the State Conservation Commission, that effectively limited lot size to 5 acres per dwelling in the Lake Macbride watershed.  Through changes in the state’s definition of private sewage disposal systems, 4 dwellings are now allowed on those same 5 acres.

More dwellings and people in the watershed will inevitably change the environment.  This may be legal, but is it the right way to Proactively Protect the Environment of Lake Macbride?

Visit our website at www.lakemacbrideconservancy.org

Bob Burns, Chair

Lake Macbride Conservancy

The Graysons Landing Subdivision proposal, which we believe impacts the well-being of Lake Macbride and its environs, is on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting agenda for February 13th at 5:30 PM, 2014. Visit the "Subdivision Issue Archive" link in the Main Menu to the left for background and an open letter from Terry Edmonds.

The Lake Macbride Conservancy has submitted a position letter to local papers and to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors. Mr. Edmonds, in his letter below, provides his opinion.  We provide his letter in the interest of communicating events and actions that we believe impact the well-being of Lake Macbride and its environs.
  Subdivision status update
I have attached a letter to local residents updating the current status of the subdivision proposal. As you can see from the letter this is a larger issue than just this subdivision. We have one last chance to do something about it at the Board of Supervisors level. The Board of Supervisors are elected individuals so we may have better luck with influencing them. I urge you to contact the board and come to their February meeting if you can. We need input to the board on the effect of this kind of subdivision on Lake MacBride and particularly how this subdivision would drive away wildlife and block public viewing of the birds.
Terry Edmonds
terry-edmonds @uiowa.edu

Dear Neighbor;                                                                                                                                                                                           1-17-2014

I am writing to update you on status of the proposed densely populated subdivision off 180th St NE known as Graysons Landing. I thank you for signing the petition along with 62 others objecting to this kind of subdivision in our community. The Johnson County Planning and Zoning Commission has approved the subdivision after two meetings despite our objections on several fronts. The subdivision proposal now goes to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors for final approval. Objecting to the supervisors is our best and last chance to stop proliferation of this kind of subdivision in our local area.

We were informed by Planning and Zoning that they and the Supervisors changed zoning back in 2008.  The change was from a minimum of five acres to build a rural home to dense housing developments that share water and sewer.  This change from when most of us purchased property and built our rural homes has caught us by surprise.  One major problem is that their change allows no consideration of the existing character of the surrounding neighborhood and no input from the current residents.  Instead, as long as developers follow the county’s rules, our opinions and investments in our homes are meaningless.  Moreover, it does not seem they have allowed for exceptions to sensitive areas like that of the proposed Graysons Landing subdivision immediately adjacent to a wetland of Lake MacBride and the impact a dense housing development will have on wildlife and waterfowl in this area.

 We need to demand the Johnson County Board of Supervisors review the 2008 decision.  State law allows municipalities the right to review developments within two miles of their city limits.  Unfortunately, the City of Solon waived its review rights.  The current land use policy needs to be amended to allow existing residences within a mile of a proposed development to have an equal say in what happens, and allow us property owners to be involved before approving any subdivisions like Graysons Landing.  Failure of the Supervisors to review the situation may mean the future of the area is more city-like than rural. I hear from almost all of you the reason you live here is because you want some space, otherwise you would be living in a city.   Residents on Newport Road have also had to suffer from this change in county policy.

We need your support by directly objecting to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors. The Graysons Landing proposal is on the Supervisors meeting agenda for February 13th at 5:30 PM, 2014. Please consider attending the meeting and voicing your opinion. You can also write to the Supervisors at the address below or better yet do both.  The most effective communication to the Board is by email.  Please urge them to at the very least reduce the development’s impact by changing the eight homes on one-acre lots to four homes on two-acre lots.  This would be less intrusive to our neighborhood.  I believe we have a good chance to have the Supervisors reconsider the Planning and Zoning recommendation and the 2008 zoning decision, but we must act now and we need significant numbers of property owners (and voters) to demand this. I have enclosed a copy of the original petition for your review.

Johnson County Board of Supervisors                     

Johnson County Administration Building

913 S. Dubuque Street

Iowa City, IA 52240

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Subdivision planned for the South shore of the North Arm of Lake Macbride


Subdivision Application 24943 is requesting a preliminary plat approval for an 11 lot 20.07 acre residential subdivision. The 11 lots are divided into 8 lots buildable and 3 out lots. Two out lots located closest to the lake are planned to be part of the septic system. Note the subdivision is located East of the silt dam adjacent to the part of the lake frequented by water birds including the large flocks of migrating White Pelicans.