Editor's Note: This story originally ran on Friday, June 22. We're featuring it again today in advance of the Tuesday meeting of the Waukee Planning & Zoning Board.
In the days since Kurt Schade spoke to the Waukee City Council, one thing has become clear: the dispute between him and the city of Waukee is complicated.
Schade, owner of the , questioned council members Monday night about their intent to promote and develop the city of Waukee. He also pointed a finger at Councilman Mike Watts, suggesting that he had a personal vendetta against Schade and that his actions were preventing him from running his business.
"Council members, it is very obvious Mr. Watts is using his power as a council person to carry out or execute some kind of personal vendetta," said Schade, Monday. "I believe this conduct is not becoming of any sort of code of any public official."
Watts did not address the allegation at the time of the meeting, but has since spoken with Waukee Patch about the incident saying there's been tension between the two since 2009 when Watts acted as a liaison between the Waukee City Council and the Board of Adjustments.
Dispute Started Over Zoning Issues
In July 2007, Schade first filed a permit for an outbuilding defined as a "utility shed" on his property at 1230 Warrior Ln.
In April 2009, Schade reportedly wanted to expand his business beyond the production of wine. He wanted to sell it, too. But the A-1 (agricultural district) zoning of his property prevented that.
In August 2009, Schade asked Waukee's Board of Adjustments to consider allowing the winery to sell wine on the premises. In October 2009, the Board voted no to the proposal.
Brad Deets, interim city administrator, said that's when the city began working with Schade in hopes of accommodating the winery.
"This has been going on for a number of years," Deets said. "As it stands, the property is zoned as A-1 and does not typically allow for the types of things Mr. Schade has requested."
In 2010, Deets said city officials began working to modify the language of the city ordinance so that it would be more specific to a winery. After several trips in front of the Board of Adjustments and the Waukee City Council, the changes still did not allow Schade Creek to operate as an event venue or a place to sell wine.
By July 2010, Schade took the city to court costing Waukee almost $4,000 in legal fees (an earlier reported number was inaccurate.) The judge in the case upheld the city's decision - Schade could grow and manufacture grapes, but he couldn't sell wine and he still wasn't allowed to host events on the property.
Business as Usual
Two years after the ruling, and despite not having the proper permits or zoning, it appears to be business as usual at Schade Creek.
According to the home page on the Schade Creek website, "Schade Creek Winery offers fabulous facilities for winery tours, banquets, meetings, or weddings."
On April 26, the city of Waukee sent Schade a letter stating, "We have received information that you are conducting activities including, but not limited to, the sale of wine and the holding of commercial events on your property in violation of Board of Adjustment and judicial determinations, as well as the restrictions on use set forth in the A-1 Zoning District in the Zoning Regulations of the Waukee Municipal Code."
The Waukee Police Department has documented several violations by Schade Creek, including the most recent one on June 9. Documented infractions of the city ordinance can carry with them a civil penalty of $500 with a maximum fine of $5,000.
On Thursday, Schade was served with court papers from the city of Waukee requiring the property's owners to pay a fine and bring the property the code.
Rezoning Property Could Solve Problem
Deets said Schade Creek could avoid any further fines by rezoning the property with a planned unit development overlay. That zoning classification "is intended and designed to provide a means for the development of large tracts of ground on a unit basis, allowing greater flexibility and diversification of land uses and building locations than the conventional single lot method."
In September, Deets met with Schade to start the process, but Schade has not been involved since.
"To put it all in perspective, Waukee is the fastest-growing city in Iowa," Deets said. "The idea that we’re trying to push somebody out...if you take a look at our development activity over the last 10 years, we try to work with everyone and at the end of the day, they all have to go through the same process as Mr. Schade."
Deets said the city's final draft of the planned unit development overlay for Schade Creek will be up for a public hearing at the Waukee Planning & Zoning commission meeting Tuesday, June 26 at 7 p.m. If approved, it could take care of some of the winery's land use restrictions.
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