# Zoning

Des Moines City Council adopts moratorium on payday lending

The Des Moines City Council voted 6-0 today to impose a six-month moratorium on new payday lending operations and pawn shops.

City leaders will spend the next 180 days examining long-term zoning regulations on such businesses. The action was taken partly in response to concerns voiced by neighborhood leaders and business owners.

Plans to open new Pawn America shops on Merle Hay Road and SE 14th Street prompted the City Council to act. Ideally, Iowa would have enacted stronger regulations on the payday lending industry long ago, because the industry’s business model depends on trapping borrowers in cycles of debt. Some Iowa Democrats tried to pass new regulations on payday lending during this year’s legislative session, but unfortunately the bill didn’t have the votes to get out of subcommittee before the first “funnel” deadline.

After the jump I’ve posted Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement‘s reaction to today’s news. Iowa CCI was one of several organizations that urged the legislature to act to protect consumers from payday lenders.

It’s not yet clear whether payday lending restrictions will be part of the federal financial reform legislation Congress is now considering.

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Great things are happening in Dubuque

The Dubuque mayor and city council decided in 2006 to make the community “a Sustainable City.” Last week federal officials recognized the progress made toward that goal. From an Environmental Protection Agency press release on September 17:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and White House Director of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion kicked off their three-city Sustainable Communities Tour today. The officials, representing the administration’s DOT-HUD-EPA Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, announced proposals during stops in Chicago and Dubuque that will help communities to improve access to affordable housing, provide additional low-cost transportation options, and protect the local environment.

Also on September 17, the city of Dubuque and IBM

outlined their plans to partner in the development of new “smarter” technologies and implementation strategies to create an international model of sustainability for communities of 200,000 and under, where over 40 percent of the U.S. population resides. Dubuque, a city that is recognized as a national leader in sustainability with its forward-thinking public policy, together with IBM, will address the ever-increasing demands of cities to deliver vital services such as energy and water management, and transportation, all while reducing the community’s impact on the environment.

More details about the recent events, along with some background, are after the jump.

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Farmer won't need special permit for harvest celebration

I recently wrote about a Johnson County farmer’s appeal against a Planning and Zoning board ruling requiring her to obtain a special permit to hold a harvest celebration at her farm.

Last night the Johnson County Board of Adjustment granted Susan Jutz’s appeal on a 5-0 vote. The non-profit organization Local Foods Connection passed along the good news in an e-mail alert I’ve posted after the jump. (Thanks also to Bleeding Heartland user corncam for the tip in the comments to my other diary.)

I was pleased to read that Jutz had so much support from the community as well as prominent figures including Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey.

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Farmers shouldn't need a special permit to hold a field day

If you’ve ever attended a farm tour, farm field day or other harvest event at an Iowa farm, you be concerned by the action alert I received yesterday from the Iowa City-based non-profit Local Foods Connection.

Last fall the Johnson County Planning and Zoning board determined that Susan Jutz would need a “special event” permit if she wanted to hold a harvest celebration at her farm in Solon. She canceled the event because of the expense of obtaining a special event permit and because she did not want to set a precedent that farm tours and celebrations went beyond “accepted agricultural practices.”

I’ve posted the action alert after the jump. Jutz is appealing the board’s ruling next week. If you live in Johnson County, please consider contacting the county officials listed below. Farms all over the country organize tours and harvest parties.  

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