Board OKs more stucco for FD townhomes

Regulatory board will allow exception

The developer of some proposed townhomes near downtown Fort Dodge will be permitted to use more of a building material called stucco than is generally allowed, a city regulatory board ruled Thursday.

The Board of Adjustment made that decision regarding the townhomes planned for what is now a city parking lot on Second Avenue South between Ninth and 10th streets.

Thursday’s decision was the latest in a series of city government actions this week related to the townhomes. On Monday, the City Council awarded the developer, JMAE LLC, of Kansas City, Missouri, up to $330,000 in tax increment financing money to pay for things like water and sewer lines. The council also approved an agreement in which the developer will pay the city $83,880 for the property. However, the city will give the developer that same amount as an economic development grant.

The plan calls for four two-story buildings, with three townhomes in each one. All the buildings will face Second Avenue South.

The townhomes will have two or three bedrooms and an attached garage in the back.

Shawn Foutch, the owner of JMAE LLC, said he hopes to tear up the asphalt parking lot surface and do other site work this fall. Construction of the townhomes is expected to begin in the spring, with the first ones to be done in the fall of 2019.

The townhome site is in the city’s downtown district, which has rules governing construction materials.

The plan calls for the fronts and sides of the buildings that face the streets to be made of brick. The developer has proposed a stucco surface for the exterior side walls between the buildings.

The city rules limit stucco to a maximum of 30 percent of a wall in the downtown district. The proposal calls for 100 percent of those exterior walls to be covered with stucco.

Stucco is a mixture of Portland cement, sand and water.

Foutch came before the Board of Adjustment Thursday to make his case that the proposed use of stucco will be both durable and in character with the rest of downtown Fort Dodge.

He said he was surprised to learn that city code doesn’t consider stucco to be a “premium siding material.”

He said his company will use the sturdiest and most rigorous option for installing the stucco.

“That’s because we’re doing it right rather than doing it cheap,” he said.

He said there will be a wood sheath on the wall covered by a moisture barrier. He said metal mesh will go on top of the moisture barrier and stucco will top it all off.

Senior City Planner Carissa Harvey said she consulted leaders of the Main Street Iowa program regarding stucco.

“They seemed to think stucco is a favorable material to use where brick isn’t used,” she said.

Board members Troy Anderson, Jennifer Crimmins and Jeanne Gibson voted to allow the expanded use of stucco. Board members Steve Hoesel and J.P. Mansfield were absent.