December 04, 2023

Baxter parcel rezoned to residential, easement disputes not county’s problem

Supervisors approve the request, which was again contested by nearby residents

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors approved the rezone of a four-acre parcel from agricultural to rural residential.

Despite back-and-forth arguments between the landowner and a neighbor over the legality of an easement and other issues that could be pursued through litigation, the Jasper County Board of Supervisors decided those issues are between the involved parties and has no affect on the county’s proposed rezone.

As a result, the county board of supervisors — after wrapping up the third public hearing on Nov. 7 — voted 3-0 to rezone the four-acre property west of Baxter from agriculture to rural residential. The owner of the land located due north of North 99th Avenue West is expected to build one house on the parcel.

Jacob Kerr lives west of the property, and he argued there is a possible injunction taking place if the rezone were to be approved. He said the easement to access the parcel owned by Sean Maher goes through his property. Until the legal issues are resolved, Kerr argued the land needs to stay agricultural.

Proponents of the rezone disagree, saying Kerr is trying to stop the sale of the property and doesn’t want another house to be built there. The two parties went back-and-forth for a short while before supervisor Brandon Talsma put a stop to it. As far as the legal issues go, Talsma said the county isn’t involved.

“I think we got a pretty clear understanding of where each of you stands at,” Talsma said. “…I’m OK with the request for rezone. I get the issue with the easement, but as far as I see, and I reached out to our county attorney’s office to ensure, the county doesn’t really have anything to do with the easement.”

As with past rezones, Talsma stated his preference to preserve personal property rights. The seller of the property has the intent to sell the property for the purpose of development. Talsma also said the land’s Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA) score of 53 was low, indicating low quality.

Fellow supervisors Denny Stevenson and Doug Cupples were also in favor of the rezone, with the former noting the rezone had been approved by the county’s planning and zoning commission. Cupples also reiterated the easement dispute was between the two parties and does not have anything to do with the rezone.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.