Return to Nicholas Johnson's Main Web Site

Return to Nicholas Johnson's Coralville Rain Forest Web Site

City Cautious With Bluff-Top Condo Plan
The Dubuque City Council Sent the Project Back to the Zoning Commission at Their Tuesday Night Meeting

Rob Kundert

Dubuque Telegraph Herald

January 19, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.]

City officials are taking it by the numbers in the ongoing process of reviewing A.J. Spiegel's high-rise condominium plan overlooking downtown Dubuque.

The Peosta, Iowa developer's twice-revised River Pointe project is going back to the Dubuque Zoning Advisory Commission for the third time in five months, on Feb. 1.

"This is a controversial project and we are trying to be cautious and cover all the bases," said Barry Lindahl, the city's top legal advisor.

The Dubuque City Council Tuesday night sent the project back for the commission's review after an opponent to the project, Jeff Nagle, raised an objection via his attorney. Nagle lives near the project site at 600 Mazzuchelli Place.

The council was to vote on the second of three required readings to change the zoning of the former St. Dominic Villa and allow construction to begin. Since its first reading was approved by the council on Dec. 19, Spiegel downsized the plan by eliminating three buildings and reducing the number of units from 286 to 240.

"The plan is so radically different it does not make sense for this to be a second reading," wrote Nagle's attorney, Robert Murphy in an e-mail to Lindahl.

The project was downsized by eliminating two, seven-story buildings and an assisted living center. The silhouette of the remaining 12-story buildings was also changed. They each were designed with a stepped appearance, from 12 stories, down to 10, down to eight stories.

"He is putting more units in each building, by eliminating the step-down, so it's 12 stories all the way across," said Kyle Kritz, associate city planner.

Even though the project is smaller and less dense, out of what he termed "an abundance of caution," Lindahl advised the council to send the project back the zoning commission.

"I don't want to create any basis for a procedural challenge to this process. I want the final decision to be made on the merits of the project, not on some technicality," Lindahl said.

"We have to accept the fact we will go through with this process and it's a worthwhile project," Spiegel said. "We downsized it twice, down from six buildings to two buildings, no blasting to satisfy the neighbors. We have spent extra money on studies to address the concerns of the neighbors."

Meanwhile, zoning commission member, Steve Hardie, has opposed the project in the past, and agreed with the decision to have the project reviewed.

"I am not particularly in favor of this high-rise development on top of the bluff," he said.

The commission's newest member, Ken Bichell, is reserving judgment, but continues to have concerns.

"It is a laudable goal to get some high-end development down there, but I am concerned about the bluff, the negative impact on the city. The skyline is important to the city," he said.