Dubuque council denies rezoning request for auto sales lot, takes other action

Notable action taken Monday night by Dubuque City Council members included:

Rezoning request for auto sales lot

Action: Council members voted, 7-0, to deny a request to rezone the property at 785 Groveland Place from neighborhood commercial to general commercial for an auto sales lot.

Background: Wilma McDonell and Nick Bries requested the rezoning of a 5,000-square-foot property that currently contains a two-story commercial building. They would convert a former salon into an auto sales lot and vehicle detailing garage. Surrounding residents, who fear that noise, activity, traffic and parking demand will increase, petitioned against the change. Earlier this month, Zoning Advisory Commission members unanimously recommended that the council deny the request.

What’s next: The applicants can appeal the decision to Dubuque County District Court.

City credit ratings

Action: Council members voted,7-0, to accept the annual review by Moody’s Investors Service that affirmed the city’s credit rating of A2 for outstanding water revenue bonds and of Aa3 for outstanding general obligation bonds.

Background: Moody’s Investors Service reviews ratings annually, gauging the future creditworthiness of securities. Entities, such as cities, are assigned one of 27 ratings that designate the degree of credit risk. Better ratings often mean that municipalities incur lower interest rates when borrowing money. Factors that Moody’s considers when assigning a credit rating include the median family income of the service area, outstanding debt and cash on hand.

What’s next: Dubuque is in a “strong financial position,” according to staff, and its status improved greatly between 2015 to 2019. Weakness that impacted Dubuque’s ratings included “somewhat inflated” debt and pension liabilities. The city will be reviewed again in 2021.

Funding request

Action: Council members voted, 7-0, to approve the submission of a grant proposal to Urban Sustainability Directors Network for the purpose of conducting a community engagement program.

Background: The grant, which totals $8,750, will finance the hosting of community meetings with Dubuque communities that are most vulnerable to the destructive impacts of climate change. City staff will solicit feedback from residents concerning their economic challenges with the aim of developing practices that could assist them and the city’s sustainability efforts, such as the implementation of energy efficiency measures and reduction of food waste. The project will be overseen by Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and Switching Places Foundation.

What’s next: If the grant is awarded, meetings are set to begin in November. The input garnered from the meetings will be used to apply for additional grants that will fund future sustainability programs.