Indianola Residents Zoned Out

by Noel TreibelStaff Writer

Some Simpson students choose to live off-campus, but where they live may be affected by a new zoning law passed by the city of Indianola.

This new law, Ordinance No. 1361, concerns the number of tenants in a household and goes into effect next summer. The ordinance only allows four residents in one house who aren’t related. However, the housing units, which are owned by Simpson, are not included in the zone.

City Councilman Randy Gathers said the council simply changed the definition of a family. The old ordinance stated that a family was one or more persons occupying premises, whether related by birth or marriage. As for the new ordinance, a family is one or more persons related by blood, foster family or adoption.

“This new ordinance will begin sometime in either June or July of 2007,” Gathers said.

The biggest reason for the new zoning law, according to Gathers, is the lack of parking for residents around their homes.

Simpson has been contacted about the zoning law and questions did arise about whether the campus would be included in the zoning ordinance. College-owned housing is exempt from the law. Indianola’s city Web site confirmed the ordinance was verified on July 26 of this year.

“It’s the nature of our business,” said Ken Birkenholtz, vice president of business and finance.

Birkenholtz said Simpson has control over the buildings, and the campus is monitored. He thought this was one more reason why Simpson would be exempt from the zoning ordinance

Gathers admits that he does not know what will happen to college students who live in places such as the Baseball House, which is not owned by Simpson, but is currently occupied by a number of students not falling under the ordinance’s definition for family.

Indianola City Administrator Tim Zisoff notes that the new code was modeled after other cities in the state with colleges, such as Ames.

“Many, many cities have a municipal infractions notice,” Zisoff said.

Once the ordinance goes into effect, anyone in violation of the code would be subject to repercussions, including those in the Baseball House.

“They would be in violation of code if they choose to have more than four people living in a residential unit, and would be subject to the ordinance,” Zisoff said. “Hopefully, individuals will choose to abide by this code.”

According to Zisoff, if a judge finds residents not abiding by the ordinance, they will be subject to a monetary fine, which could include a fee of $50 for every day a resident lives in violation of the code.

As for other, more permanent residents of Indianola, the new zoning ordinance may not even effect their living situation. Some of the public may not realize there’s actually a new ordinance.

“I had no clue,” said Kelly Kohrs, an Indianola resident of five years. “This law does not affect me at the present time.”

Kohrs wasn’t aware this new ordinance was in motion, nor had she heard of a law like this at her previous residence. Kohrs doesn’t seem to be worried about this new ordinance because it doesn’t affect her or her household.

“I don’t think it matters who lives in your house or not,” Kohrs said.

The city of Indianola has proposed this new ordinance for residents, but as for Simpson students, this law does not affect those who live on campus for now.