FORT MADISON - A disgruntled developer from West Burlington got an olive branch of sorts from the Fort Madison City Council.
Sean Rogers, from HappyLand Properties headquartered in West Burlington, has had an issue with some building hurdles put in front of developments he's undertaken within the city.
Rogers again addressed the council during Tuesday's regular meeting, again threatening the council with "some surprises" this year he was bringing to upcoming council meetings.
"I'm not going to harp on what I've been harping on. I kinda gave you a reprieve in December. It was the season of giving and it was my gift to you by not attending the meetings," Rogers told the council.
He said with 2023 upon us he was bringing issues to the council every meeting he's allowed to attend.
Rogers was not allowed to speak at a meeting earlier in the fall, when Mayor Matt Mohrfeld said the public comment section was at his discretion.
Iowa Code says there are no guarantees that anyone be allowed to speak at public meetings or that there be time for public comment.
However, the city's attorney Pat O'Connell from Lynch Dallas out of Cedar Rapids, recommended that the city allow Rogers three minutes to speak when he last appeared in November.
Rogers told the council Tuesday that they had violated his constitutional rights. When pushed on the issue by Councilman Kevin Rink, Rogers said his first amendment rights were violated when he wasn't allowed to speak at the meeting.
Rogers said he has been requesting meetings to discuss the notices he's been receiving for nuisance abatements for months and finally got a reply fron the city.
Mohrfeld acknowledged that the city had reached out to Rogers to set up a meeting but said the city has asked for some clarifications prior to the meeting.
"I didn't understant the request. In my opinion you have a meeting because it's the right thing to do, not because you're trying to build a legal defense," Rogers said.
"That's all the letter was. It was very clear you were building a legal defense and take my information and reply back that you didn't find sufficient grounds (for the meeting)."
Mohrfeld said he was directing staff to work with Rogers to set up a meeting with his attorney and start addressing the issues at hand.
Rogers said he didn't need to invite his attorney. Mohrfeld said that was fine and city staff would reach out to set up the meeting.
Rogers said his projects are being singled out by City Building Director Doug Krogmeier with nuisance letters.
He said he's invested close to $1.5 million in the city, but has been harassed and has threatened to "create chaos" with multiple lawsuits.
"You're way overstepping lines, you're violating laws, violating constitutional rights. There's a multitude of things we need to discuss," he said.
"I would like to move forward with this. I've got better things to do. I've got several surprises planned for upcoming meetings."
In other action, the council:
• swore in newly appointed councilwoman Angela Roller to fill the post vacated by Tom Schulz who won a seat on the Lee County Board of Supervisors in the general election.
• appointed Danielle Neaves to the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission's Revolving Loan Fund committee.
• announced a water quality survey had gone out to residents to evaluate lead risks based on individual home water systems.
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