Greenhouse, fowl discussed in Waterloo

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A Waterloo resident spoke with the Waterloo Ordinance Committee on Monday to request adjustments to city ordinances concerning residential greenhouses and fowl-keeping.

Much of the Aug. 1 committee meeting focused on the fact plant nurseries and greenhouses in Waterloo must be 50 feet away from any property line.

Matt Schweizer, operator and part-owner of Hopskeller Brewing Company in downtown Waterloo, wishes to build a 10-foot-by-20-foot greenhouse in the backyard of his duplex on Paula Drive, but city zoning administrator Nathan Krebel explained the current ordinance simply doesn’t allow for it.

“Matt’s lot width is 90 feet, therefore he cannot have a greenhouse on his property,” Krebel said. “After reviewing the ordinance, the committee and I agree the current ordinance is outdated and there should be a difference between the residential districts and business/industrial districts.”

Krebel further explained he is looking into identifying residential greenhouses as accessory structures, which would significantly decrease the amount of property line buffer space required.

The current ordinance concerning greenhouses is largely based on more commercial greenhouses that make use of such devices as heating lights.

“You can have some crazy generators and I could absolutely see why that stuff would be 50 feet off the property line and also dealing with other nuisances as well,” Schweizer said.

Lighting meant to heat plants during the winter would still be prohibited in residential greenhouses, Krebel explained.

He added that homeowners looking to build a greenhouse would also have to apply for a special use permit, giving the Waterloo Planning Commission and Waterloo Zoning Board of Appeals oversight.

Krebel said he will draft a copy of the committee’s request for the Sept. 6 meeting. The ordinance committee will then recommend changes to the planning commission, which will provide a recommendation to the zoning board.

Schweizer also expressed his desire to keep fowl – specifically quail – on his property.

The relevant ordinance currently prohibits possession of animals including swine, goats, horses, cattle and fowl within city limits.

Schweizer said many communities have started to allow for quail within city limits, as they are much less of a nuisance compared to other animals.

The committee requested Krebel look into such ordinances in other municipalities for the Sept. 6 meeting.

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