Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 17, 2016

IA Appeal s Court Upholds Grant of Variance by Board of Adjustment

Condon Cabin L.L.C., appealed the district court’s ruling upholding the grant of a variance by the Dickinson County Board of Adjustment. Condon claimed that the Board acted illegally by failing to make written findings as to nearly all required factual issues, never approving a final and true site plan, and by making contradictory factual findings.

Condon’s first argument was that the document captioned “Instructions for Variance Application” established the rules of the Board, and the Board was required to address each of the seven specific findings in order to grant a variance. The district court, however, held the document to be “an information sheet designated to educate applicants about the formalities necessary to receive a variance.” The court found the district court’s holding to be supported by substantial evidence and agreed that all seven specific findings did not have to be addressed in each decision impacting a variance. Instead, the ordinance required the Board to make findings concerning reasons which justified the variance, a finding that the variance was harmonious with the ordinance, and that the variance would not be injurious to neighbors and the public welfare.

Here, the Board made findings on the issues required of them. The record contained the ordinance, the application submitted by the Mohlings, the testimony of Allan Mohling, their contractor, their surveyor, and a host of neighbors. The Board made its decisions after considering all of this information. The court found that this, combined with the vote approving the setbacks and drainage plan, constituted substantial evidence that the Board made the required findings. Additionally, the court found that the “contradictory findings” Condon referred to were merely the statements of the minority of the Board that voted against the variance.

Condon Cabin, LLC v. Dickinson County Bd. of Adjustment, 2016 WL 5484947 (IA App. 9/28/2016)

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